St. James’ Honer is 4A singles state champion
Going into the Class 4A state tennis tournament, St. James Academy singles player Bree Honer was the prohibitive favorite to take home the title.
She did not disappoint.
Honer delivered a hard-fought, three-set victory against Hesston’s Ali Anderson in the finals to claim the championship, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.
“We had many conversations at change-overs about what to do,” St. James coach Rebecca Snodgrass said. “She had lots of energy, and she was able to capitalize on the mistakes the other player made.”
After dropping the first set, Honer trailed 4-2 in the second before turning it around and winning five of the final six games to claim the set victory. Honer then dominated the final set and claimed victory in a marathon match that lasted almost two and a half hours.
“Bree just played at a very high level of tennis,” Snodgrass said. “It was just outstanding play over two days, very focused, very driven, and she was very determined.”
The state title completes an impressive comeback for Honer who missed all of last season because of migraine headaches.
“She really missed tennis,” Snodgrass said. “She really missed it a lot, and she worked hard this past summer trying to get back to high form. We worked hard during the season, and it was just something she was really aiming for and she had her sights set on since the first day of practice.”
Honer cruised through the opening round match against Rachel Norberg of Smoky Valley, 6-0, 6-0. She then got by Julie Frentz of Maize South and moved on to the semifinals.
“I think her first two matches were not very challenging to her,” Snodgrass said. “But being the number one seed helped too. She got a good workout on the first day.”
On Saturday, Honer faced Caitlyn Wark of Colby in the semifinals and cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 victory.
“The Saturday morning with her match against a girl from Colby pushed her a little bit,” Snodgrass said. “She kept raising her level of play through the match.”
Honer finished the season with a 23-5 record, making her the definite favorite at 4A going into her senior season, but Snodgrass knows that Honer still has plenty to accomplish.
“You know as a tennis player you are always looking at places of your game where you can improve on and tweek a few different things,” Snodgrass said. “I think keeping her level of play up is something she will always focus on.”
St. James also sent a doubles team to the tournament at Maize South High School, but it was taken out by Wellington in the first round. Julianne Smith and Emily Kippes battled two sets, but eventually fell in a tiebreaker 6-3, 5-7 (10-4).
They did however battle back in the consolation rounds and win another match to contribute to the team score.
“They were thrilled and couldn’t be happier to share the weekend with their teammate that ended up winning,” Snodgrass said.
St. James ended up finishing in sixth place with 19. Wellington won the tournament with 40 points.