Northwest tennis takes 3rd at Sunflower League tourney
For a team laden with sophomores, it was the seniors who came through in bunches.
Behind its number one and number two doubles teams, the Shawnee Mission Northwest girls tennis team swung its way to a third-place finish at the Sunflower League Girls Tennis Championships Tuesday, Sept. 27, at Harmon Park.
The number one doubles team of senior Mary Slattery and junior Claire Gordon and the number two doubles pairing of seniors Ann Brauer and Lauren Severance each finished with 3-1 records and second-place finishes in helping the Cougars to third place in the team standings.
We did really, really well,” said Northwest head coach Ken Clow of his team’s efforts. “We’ve improved quite a bit over last year.”
Shawnee Mission East won the league title and Olathe East claimed second, but the Cougars convincingly took third as they got a huge boost from their doubles pairings but also some solid finishes by their two singles players.
The Cougars’ number two singles player — sophomore Lauren Benjamin — earned fourth in her bracket, while number one singles player freshman Carly Olson took sixth with one of her losses coming to Olathe Northwest’s number one singles player. The Olathe Northwest netter, Nodoka Hayashi, was ranked number one in Japan’s junior nationals circuit and won the Sunflower League singles title outright. After losing to her, Olson came back and beat a foe from Shawnee Mission West 8-3. Earlier in the season, Olson had lost to the same girl by an identical score.
On Friday, the Cougars squared off against Mill Valley and scored a 10-2 victory. Winners at singles included Olson at number one, Benjamin at number two, sophomore Gabby Whitmore at number four, sophomore Zoe Zigenhorn at number five, sophomore Abby Zimmerman at number six, junior Brooke Evan at seven, and freshman Brooke Bennett at number eight.
In doubles matches, Northwest received winning performances from the number one team of Gordon and Slattery, the number three duo of Zimmerman and Evans, and the number four pairing of Benjamin and Whitmore.
The Cougars are off this week until the Class 6A regional tournament Friday at Lawrence High School. All five Shawnee Mission District teams, the two Lawrence high schools, and Leavenworth all will participate in the regional. Winners and qualifiers will then head to Wichita for the state tournament Oct. 14-15.
As the Cougars ready themselves for regionals and state, Clow remains hopeful that a number of Northwest girls will represent the Cougars in Wichita.
“I think we’ll have some folks going,” Clow said. “I think, if we’re lucky and we’re playing well, Carly Olson and Lauren Benjamin have a shot. I think our number two doubles team has a shot, also, but they really have to want it.
“They lost badly to Mill Valley and I was really upset. I said to the other coach, ‘They’re not really that bad, they just look terrible.’ Their style of play is really the hardest to beat. They get everything back. They’re a tough team.”