Why we are kvelling over John Burroughs senior Emily Kantrovitz


Jordan Palmer

When 6-year-old Emily Kantrovitz picked up a tennis racket for the first time, it did not take long before her parents and coaches began to see something special in that swing. As a child, she started playing with lower compression tennis balls and developing her hand/eye coordination.  Soon, she was competing against other kids her age and winning.

“She started competing locally and eventually began traveling through the Missouri Valley as she really enjoyed being on the court,” said Emily’s mother, Melissa Kantrovitz.

As she grew up, tennis remained a fixture in life. In the past 7 years, she began training with Coach Max Shapiro at the Missouri Athletic Club. The two worked well together, developing her footwork, her stroke dynamics, conditioning, and the various mental aspects of her game.

“Emily has a tough fighting spirit to never give up regardless of what the scorecard reads, a quality which serves her well on the tennis court and in her life,” said Melissa. “My husband, David, and I knew she had the drive and dedication to succeed in tennis when she started competing nationally and beating some highly ranked players!”

All that hard work paid off when Emily, now a John Burroughs senior, finished her final high school tennis tournament by winning the Missouri Class 3 singles championship on October 15th, defeating two area standouts.

In her run for the title, Emily defeated Abby Gaines of St. Joseph’s Academy 7-5, 6-1 in the semifinals before taking on Parkway South’s Khayli Buckels in the championship match. Emily took the first set 6-0, but allowed Buckles back in the match in the second set, losing 4 straight. But, she battled back, winning the next 5. Up 5-4, in the second set, Emily forced a match point.

“I was definitely nervous on the last point of the match,” said Emily. “It was difficult to hit a good second serve at 5-4 deuce with no-ad scoring, but I was so close to achieving my season-long goal that I knew it was possible. So there was no other option than to WIN that point!”

Emily won that point.

She defeated Buckles 6-0, 6-4 in the championship match. Kantrovitz won the first six games of the title match and then the last six.

Next up for the state champ, is playing tennis at Emory University.

”During my college search, I found it challenging to strike the perfect balance between academics and athletics. Yes, tennis has been my passion for so many years and I can’t wait to continue pursuing it in college, but after college, I need to make sure I have a great education to guide me. And that’s a big reason why I chose Emory. It is a fantastic school. Their tennis program is also a multiple title holding program that provides tough practices and workouts run by supportive coaches. I was able to meet the girls on the team and all are so nice. The team jives so well together giving you an instant group of friends which I am very much looking forward to at Emory!”

In addition to the Missouri State championship, Emily was named the 2021 USTA Missouri Valley St. Louis Female Player of the Year. This recognition is based on high-performance results at USTA St. Louis, USTA Missouri Valley, and USTA National tournaments; sportsmanship; and a demonstration of raising the game to its highest level. 

Additional Honors Include:
Metro League Player of the Year
Metro League – First Team
Post Dispatch All-Metro – First Team
USTA Missouri Valley Sportsmanship Award
Highest national ranking 51

Emily and her family are members of Temple Israel.