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Tennis: Lambert girls sweep past Norcross for repeat state finals berth
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Lambert's Kate Dufresne (left) and Kaitlyn Hoxie celebrate after winning a point in a doubles match against Norcross in the girls state tennis semifinals on April 30, 2019 at Lambert High School. - photo by Ian Frazer

There wasn’t much that Lois Mickles could say about what happened on Lambert’s tennis courts on a hot Tuesday afternoon.

“Everybody killed it,” the Longhorns head girls coach said to her gathered team after everything had wrapped up.

Lambert dispatched Norcross almost as quickly as possible in the state semifinals: No. 2 singles player Brooke Despriet won 6-0, 6-0; the No. 2 doubles pair of Kate Dufresne and Kaitlyn Hoxie won 6-0, 6-1; and to finish off the Blue Devils, the No. 1 doubles pair of Taylor Despriet and Katie Lewis won 6-1, 6-0.

It wasn’t an unexpected outcome for the Longhorns, who have been rolling since winning the Region 5-7A title back in March. Lambert didn’t drop a match against either of its first three opponents in the bracket, and they didn’t come close on Tuesday, either.

“Everything went exactly the way we planned,” Mickles said.

Lambert can now look ahead to a return trip to the state finals, where the Longhorns lost to Walton in 2018. Because the Longhorns didn’t know their opponent immediately after finishing on Tuesday, most of their discussion of the event revolved around plans for potential inclement weather.

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Lambert's Brooke Despriet hits a backhand during the Longhorns' state semifinal tennis match against Norcross on April 30, 2019 at Lambert High School. - photo by Ian Frazer
But with Walton losing to Milton on Tuesday, Lambert can now look towards the finals with definite dreams of a victory. The Longhorns have played the Eagles twice this season, losing in the teams’ first meeting but winning in the region finals, 3-0. That match was the first for Lambert with an altered lineup, switching Taylor Despriet from No. 1 singles to doubles and putting Cheyanne Brooks in her spot.

The move was meant to best utilize the players’ varying skillsets: Despriet has more craftiness and versatility in her game, suited to the variety of net and baseline play in doubles, while Brooks has a strong baseline game better suited to singles. It’s an alignment that has been charitable to the Longhorns, and it’s one that they’re planning to keep moving forward.

“It doesn’t mean that one is not as good a player as the other,” Mickles said. “It just means that the positions they’re moved to is where they’re suited at this point to help the team.”

And even without a specific opponent in their vision, the Longhorns could speak to the motivation brought on by last year’s defeat at the final stage of the tournament. A title this year would be the first in the program’s history.

“We all really want it this year,” Brooke Despriet said on Tuesday. “I think a little bit more, because we took the loss last year.”