Edwardsville senior is No. 2 on Tigers’ all-time wins list
Published 3:43 pm, Monday, April 10, 2017
One of the most successful players in the history of the Edwardsville girls’ tennis program will be heading to Chicago to continue her career.
EHS senior Morgan Colbert recently announced that she will be playing tennis next season at Illinois Institute of Technology, an NCAA Division III school in Chicago with an enrollment of 7,800 students. She plans to major in architecture.
The school, also known as Illinois Tech for its athletic programs, uses the Scarlet Hawks nickname for its teams. Illinois Tech announced plans last year to start men’s and women’s tennis programs. Both teams will start competing in the fall of 2017 under new coach Erik Scanlan.
“Their coach contacted me first and I went up there and visited,” Colbert said. “They have one of the best architectural programs in the nation, which is really what I’m going after, and the city of Chicago is known for its architecture. Also having the opportunity to play tennis was very inviting.”
Being part of a brand-new college tennis program was also a factor in Colbert’s decision. Before choosing Illinois Tech, she also considered Kansas University, Kansas State and Washington University in St. Louis.
“It’s very exciting to say that I can help a start a program, but just to get out and play every day is exciting too,” said Colbert, who made her decision last month.
A four-year starter at EHS, Colbert had a career record of 165-32 and ranks second in all-time wins. Last fall, she capped her senior season at the state tournament in suburban Chicago by placing fourth in doubles with junior partner Grace Desse. They became the first players in program history to reach the semifinals.
“Morgan had a lot of huge moments for herself and for the program, but no moment was bigger than her performance at state last year in winning the quarterfinals along with Grace Desse against (Winnetka) New Trier to put us in the semifinals for the first time,” Edwardsville coach Dave Lipe said of Colbert, who had an overall record of 41-9 in 2016.
“She was a very impactful player on our program. In a lot of ways, she’s a very quiet kid, but she’s a terrific leader. If we started a tennis Hall of Fame here, she would be an inaugural member.”
For Colbert, the fourth-place finish at state in doubles ranks as the No. 1 highlight of her career at EHS.
“It was a great accomplishment to get over that hump that no one was able to do before,” Colbert said. “That’s a tribute to coach Lipe and how much he focuses on doubles.”
As a junior in 2015, Colbert was 51-7, setting the program single-season record for wins. At the state tourney, she and Desse posted a 5-2 record in doubles and tied for seventh place.
Colbert had a 30-8 record during her sophomore season in 2014, including a 1-2 mark in singles at state.
As a freshman in 2013, Colbert was 43-8, going 3-2 in doubles at the state tourney.
“I had a great four years here and I really developed as a leader,” Colbert said. “My singles and doubles games both improved and it really showed my senior season with our run at state. Coach Lipe gave me a great foundation and he brought me to where I am in my tennis game.”
In singles, Colbert moved up the ladder each year at EHS, claiming the No. 1 spot as a senior in 2016. She played No. 2 singles as a junior after playing No. 5 as a sophomore and No. 7 as a freshman.
“Going out and playing every day, I’ve improved all my strokes, but the biggest improvement was the mental game,” Colbert said. “We set goals every day and just having that focus was a big help. We have some great fitness programs and stuff that we do in the offseason and if you focus on those, you’re going to improve.”
Colbert played softball at EHS through her junior year and she believes that playing a second sport helped her tennis game.
“Just as far as throwing the ball, that’s the service motion, so even though I wasn’t playing tennis, I still had that physical activity,” Colbert said. “I think the break from tennis also motivated me. When I started playing again in the summer, I was like ‘I’ve got to get back into tennis form’ and that helped me a lot.”