CHAMPAIGN — Madie Baillon is headed back to state. But this time, the St. Thomas More junior is packing more confidence than ever.
"I'm feeling good after this weekend," she said after a dominating 4-0 run to successfully defend her singles championship at the Champaign Central Sectional. "I thought I really stepped my game up. I stuck to my game plan, which was to be aggressive."
The result was a third consecutive trip to the Chicago suburbs for Thursday's state finals. Baillon had her best showing last fall, finishing 3-2 and in the top 25. She has a chance to nab one of the 32 seeds handed out to the best players.
"State definitely is more serious," Baillon said. "It's a whole new world. You never get an easy match."
Baillon wasn't challenged at sectional, losing only four games. She beat Centennial's Allison Hansen 6-0, 6-2 in the title match. Hansen and fourth-place Lori Haas of Bismarck-Henning also moved on.
Coming off a strong showing at the Big 12 meet, Danville rolled to the team championship. It marked the Vikings' first sectional title since 2004.
"To have conference and sectional titles in the same year is a great accomplishment," Danville coach Mark Bacys said.
The Vikings will send two doubles teams to state: sisters Rachael and Rebecca Lewis beat Amy Shah and Megan Marble 6-1, 6-1 in the title match.
Central's Anna Rodgers and Shoham Band placed fourth to advance.