In a year of setting high-water marks, the Greenback girls’ tennis team continued to push the level higher at the Central Kansas League tournament at Hesston on Saturday.
The CKL is a nine-team tournament packed with talent. This year was no exception as Hesston, ranked 2nd in the 4A coaches’ rankings, Pratt, Smoky Valley and Sterling all brought strong teams.
As the competition smoke cleared by 4 o’clock in the afternoon, Pratt was in sole possession of 2nd place. Hesston, as expected, paced all teams with 78 points, followed by Pratt (66), Smoky Valley (57), Sterling (52), Lyons (32), Haven (25), Hillsboro (23), Kingman (15), and Nickerson (12).
In evaluating the Greenbacks’ performance, head coach Larry Kahmeyer said, “Prior to the meet, I set a personal goal of placing 2nd as a team. I figured if all the girls played up to their potential we could pull it off and they did. They even exceeded my expectations. We spoiled a sweep by Hesston and placed ahead of Smoky Valley and Sterling. That’s a good day in my estimation!”
Jade Hoover, entering with a record of 24-1, earned the second seed behind Hesston’s Brenda Sanchez who has some experience playing at the #1 position. Hoover’s first round against #7 Kaufman of Hillsboro proved to be a short 6-0, 6-1 affair.
Facing Lyon’s consistent Abbie Miller in the semis, Hoover got the upper hand with a first set 6-3 win, then ended the match with an uncontested 6-0 set.
True to form, the top two seeds would meet in the championship match. The hard-hitting Sanchez fell to Hoover’s consistency 6-2 in the first set, then put up a tougher battle in the second, but Hoover prevailed 6-4 to pocket the champion’s medal.
“Jade continues to amaze me,” enthused Kahmeyer. “She’s such a competitor and will not surrender. Running on fumes in the final set, Sanchez was poised to force a third set, but Jade would not give up and found the strength to finish her off. She exceeded her seed and ruined Hesston’s sweep of the finals and I’m very proud of her effort.”
With previous wins over Smoky Valley and Sterling, the #1 doubles team of Lauren McClain and Dani Williams were slotted on the #2 line, again behind Hesston. Haven’s Reichenberger and Wagler offered little trouble in a 6-1, 6-0 first round win for Pratt.
In a more challenging meeting, McClain and Williams would face Smoky Valley’s Anderson and Morrical. Falling behind 1-4, the girls rallied to tie things at 5-all, then polished off the next two games to take the set 7-5.
Cruising on the momentum, the next set was theirs at 6-1 and jumped them into the finals against Hesston’s Shogren and Weaver. After putting up a valiant fight in the first set, the girls lost 4-6 and saw the second set go down 2-6.
Page 2 of 3 - “Lauren and Dani had a great day,” said Kahmeyer. “The played Smoky Valley very well. I was a little worried when they were down 1-4, but they systematically and patiently clawed their way back in, then finished it out. I was hoping against hope that they could get that first set against Hesston, but the loss was no let-down. They gave them a good run and I was pleased with the effort.”
Sophomore partners Allicia Hall and Elee Hampton also nailed down the second seed, again behind Hesston, but had to get through some tough matches to achieve it.
Starting their journey to the finals with a quick 6-0, 6-0 win over Miller and Gunn from Haven, the girls faced Sterling’s Lambert and Fenwick in the semis.
After a tight 6-4 first-set win, then Pratt duo took an easier 6-2 second set, the prepared for the tough championship match against Hesston’s Wilder and King. Putting up a good effort, the girls fell short in a 2-6, 2-6 loss but realized their seed and walked away with the 2nd place hardware.
“Allicia and Elee have had a great first season at the varsity level,” reflected Kahmeyer. “I don’t think I would’ve predicted a 2nd place CKL finish for the girls at the beginning of the season! They’ve really upped their games and have done themselves and the team proud!”
In the toughest field of the day, Adele Loomis, playing #1 singles, was seeded 4th behind Hesston, Smoky Valley, and Sterling. After a 6-0, 6-4 warm-up win over Lyons’ Brittanie Eskut, Loomis found herself on the court with Hesston’s #1-seeded Ali Anderson. Anderson’s 21-3 record gave some indication of how the match would end, but Loomis put up a valiant fight. While Loomis dropped the match 0-6, 1-6, the score gave little indication of some of the contested rallies and points.
Entering the consolation match for 3rd, Loomis would face Sterling’s third-seeded Ryce Stucky. After struggling with her rhythm in the first set, Loomis lost 1-6, then made some adjustments and forced the second set to a 6-all tie-breaker. Staring at a 6-5 tie-breaker advantage, Loomis hit a couple shot short in the net to see the rally end at 5-7 to take fourth.
“Adele’s 1-2 day was no indication of how well she played today,” offered Kahmeyer. “She played in the deepest field of talent and still finished ahead of five other league players. After Adele beat Stucky at our home tournament, then lost to her at Sterling’s, I would’ve loved to have seen that last match forced into a third set,” said Kahmeyer. “She was very, very close. Still, playing that level of competition will be a good rev-up to regionals where I’m sure she can perform well.”
Page 3 of 3 - The CKL tournament ended the regular season for the Greenbacks whose next competition will be to host one of the four 4A regionals on Friday and Saturday, October 5 & 6.