After year off, Honer returns as regional champion
TOPEKA — A year away from high school tennis didn’t diminish Bree Honer’s game. It made her hungrier.
Honer, a St. James Academy junior, reached the Class 4A state finals in doubles as a freshman. She and then-teammate Katie Wohletz placed second after losing a back-and-forth finals match to Colby’s Lindsey Wilson and Caitlyn Wark, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.
It was a performance that put Honer on the tennis map in Kansas, and it was supposed to be the start of a brilliant career. A year later, however, Honer was off the tennis court. A battle with migrane headaches made it difficult to play. Honer was forced to sit out the season.
“I missed it,” she said of the time away from the sport, “but I thought I should get well before I came back.”
Honer returned with a vengeance this season. She put together a dominant regular season and earned the number two seed at Friday and Saturday’s Class 4A regional tournament at Kossover Tennis Center in Topeka. By Saturday afternoon, Honer had a few more victories to her credit and a regional championship in her pocket.
She cruised through her first two matches by matching scores of 6-0, 6-1, and then hammered De Soto sophomore Paige Williams in the semifinals, 6-0, 6-0.
Honer breezed past Topeka Hayden sophomore Paige Hunter in the finals, 6-1, 6-1.
It was the latest accomplishment in a remarkable return to the court.
“It’s great; I love it,” Honer said of playing tennis again. “I’m happy that I trained for it, and now I can see the results.”
Honer will take a 19-5 record to the state tournament Friday and Saturday, Oct. 15-16, at Maize South High School. She hopes her experience of two years ago will benefit her this time around.
“It’s going to give me confidence because I know I can make it to state, and I did,” she said. “My friends are going to be there to support me, and I’m going to try my best and see what happens.”
Honer won’t be making the trip by herself. Freshman Julianne Smith and junior Emily Kippes placed sixth in doubles and also advanced to state. Their record is 6-5.
St. James finished third in the team standings with nine points. Hayden won the team title with 22 points and Baldwin was second with 12.