Unusually hot late September weather has been a backdrop to every high school sports event the past several days.

That certainly was the case Saturday for the Pekin girls tennis team in the Maroon Invitational at Washington.

There's Ashley Stilling, for example, who played singles in her first varsity tournament.

The sophomore drew the No. 2 seed from Limestone in her opening match and overcame a slight case of jitters, according to Pekin coach Gary Garver, to give her opponent a battle before losing 7-5, 6-3.

Stilling dropped into the consolation bracket. Instead of folding in the heat and humidity, she beat opponents from Pontiac (8-1) and East Peoria (8-3) to make it to the consolation championship match against a player from host Peoria High.

"By this time, Ashley's parents and teammates were icing her down under a tent trying to get her revived enough to walk onto the court for the final," Garver said.

"When she finally felt good enough to start the match, she competed like a trooper and managed to stay close (5-4) before simply running out of gas and losing 8-4."

Pekin's doubles entry of Jaclyn Mulvey and Kaitlin Dunn was seeded No. 2.
Mulvey and Dunn faced a Limestone duo in the first round that used an unorthodox game plan, probably because of the heat.

The Limestone players stood side by side on the base line and lobbed nearly every shot. They won 7-6 (3), 7-5.

"Jaclyn and Kaitlin dropped into the consolation bracket. Because of their bruised pride, they played like they were on a mission the rest of the day," Garver said.

The Pekin duo ripped through opponents from Pontiac (8-2), Washington (8-3) and Galesburg (8-3) and won the consolation title.

Pekin's Amara Howell beat an opponent from East Peoria 6-1, 6-0 in the first round in singles before losing to the No. 4 seed from Washington 6-4, 6-1.

Rachel Bresnahan and Gina Olsen of Pekin had a first-round win in doubles, 6-3, 6-1, but fell to a team from East Peoria 6-2, 7-5.

Steve Stein can be reached at stevestein21@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.