Northwest trio qualifies for 6A state tournament
Tennis season lasts until mid-October — if you’re going to the state championships, that is.
Three Shawnee Mission Northwest girls tennis players have found their playing seasons extended after the Friday’s Class 6A regional tournament at Lawrence High School.
Freshman Carly Olson, junior Claire Gordon and senior Mary Slattery helped SMNW take third as a team at regionals and each earned berths in Friday and Saturday’s Class 6A state tournament at Riverside Tennis Complex in Wichita.
Olson earned her way to state with a sixth-place finish in singles while Gordon and Slattery battled to a second-place finish in doubles. Their finishes, along with early-round wins by number two singles player Lauren Benjamin, a sophomore, and the number two doubles team of seniors Ann Brauer and Lauren Severance, helped the Cougars earn their third place trophy — finishing just one point behind second-place Lawrence Free State. Shawnee Mission East won the team title.
“Mary and Claire played their best tennis of the season,” Northwest coach Ken Clow said. “I was really impressed with how they played. They were able to get balls back all day — just about everything they hit at us.”
Olson had the challenge of a difficult draw, even if it didn’t look like it at first.
“We initially saw Carly’s draw and thought it would be one of the easier ones,” Clow said, “but she ended up playing the (Shawnee Mission) South number one, the (Shawnee Mission North) number one, and the Lawrence High girl who beat Lauren Benjamin earlier. So, it turned out to be a very hard draw.”
The Shawnee Mission North number one player, Lindsay Beger, earned a state berth as well. Beger posted a 2-2 record and finished fourth in singles.
The Cougars will have just three practice sessions before leaving for Wichita on Thursday. Clow is hoping the team can continue to play the consistent brand of tennis that has brought them this far.
“We’ll leave on Thursday and stay there overnight,” Clow said. “We have been very consistent with getting the ball back and forcing mistakes to come from the other team. We just need to stay with what we’ve been doing.”
NO QUALIFIERS FOR MILL VALLEY
Home-court advantage wasn’t enough to help the Mill Valley tennis team overcome a powerhouse Class 5A regional field Saturday as the Jaguars finished fifth out of six teams and didn’t qualify any players for state.
St. Thomas Aquinas won the regional with 23 points, Blue Valley was second with 17 and Blue Valley Southwest finished third with 12.
In singles, Sarah Wetzel won her first-round match and then lost to eventual regional runner-up Morgan Steffes of Blue Valley, 6-0, 6-0. From there, Wetzel moved into an elimination match in the consolation bracket where she fell to fifth-place finisher Taylor Westrom of Blue Valley Southwest, 6-2, 6-2.
Also in singles, Mikaela McCabe fell in the first round to sixth-place finisher Ashley Kopko of Blue Valley, 6-1, 6-0.
In doubles, the MVHS pair of Taylor Brunson and Joylyn Kennedy earned a 6-1, 7-6 (7-3) victory against Lansing in the first round before falling in the quarterfinals to fourth-place finishers Angela Tsang and Anna Hickock of BVSW, 6-1, 6-1. From there, Brunson and Kennedy took on Kalyn Heyen and Sophi McArthur of of Bishop Miege and lost, 6-1, 6-4.
Mill Valley’s other doubles pair, Kelli Rutherford and Lauren Shurley, lost in the first round to Hannah Stewart and Mary Park of Bishop Miege, 6-2, 5-7 (10-4).