After a less-than-stellar showing at Maize South, the Greenback girls’ tennis team responded like champions at Smoky Valley on Saturday, September 21. In one of the more challenging meets of the season, the Greenbacks earned 55 points to place 3rd out of ten teams, falling only to state-ranked Buhler (70) and Topeka Hayden (69). Smoky Valley also garnered 55 points, followed by a team of mixed-school players (50), Independent (43), Sterling (38), Collegiate (27), and Marysville (22).
Using the meet to shake up the line-up and try some different combinations, coach Larry Kahmeyer said, “After Maize South, I felt like we could benefit from a break in the routine, so I moved some players around to play to their strengths. From a team standpoint, it made sense, but I also think our morale improved, too. “
After playing all last year at doubles, senior Lauren McClain took the singles helm for the first time since her sophomore year. Going 3-2, she placed a respectable 4th, defeating Colby, Smoky Valley and Marysville, and falling to Sterling in pool play and Collegiate in the finals.
Junior Jade Hoover had Pratt’s best run, going 4-0 for 1st place at #2 singles. She defeated Colby, Hayden, and Smoky Valley in pool play, then, in the finals, knocked off Buhler’s Koestel in a close 6-4 slugfest to pocket gold.
“Lauren and Jade played our first four meets as doubles partners and I wanted them to get out on the singles court to play to their talents. Doubles is a completely different style of play than singles and it was good for them to open up and slug away at the ball. The girls earned 36 of our 55 points, so it was a good move,” said Kahmeyer.
In doubles action, juniors Allicia Hall and Elee Hampton jumped up to the #1 position and placed 7th in a stacked field, going 2-3. Defeating Sterling and losing to Independent, Hayden, and Marysville in pool play, the girls faced Colby in the final round. Making the Pratt crowd a little nervous, the Pratt duo saw a 5-2 lead dwindle to 5-4, before salting away the final game to finish the day with a win.
At #2 doubles, juniors Ellie Brehm and Mayberry paired up for the first time in varsity action. They defeated Colby and fell to Smoky Valley and Buhler in pool play, then matched up with Sterling in the final round. In a close match, the Greenback girls finally prevailed 6-4 to claim the final 5th place medal.
“It was a good day for our doubles in that it put them in new challenging positions. The competition jump to #1 doubles will really benefit Allicia and Elee in future meets and they got some wins that will help down the road. They had a couple of close matches go against them, but they could’ve just as easily been 3-2. Ellie and Madi really responded to a new situation and played some very consistent tennis. It was great to see them earn some hardware for their efforts,” said Kahmeyer.
Page 2 of 2 - In perhaps the biggest news of the day, senior Dani Williams was back on the court after being cleared to play late Friday afternoon. Recovering from a broken wrist, her physician felt she was at the point that she could resume full activity. Cleared too late to play for Pratt’s lineup, she still got her first action by pairing up in #2 doubles with a junior varsity player from Smoky Valley on a mixed team. That pairing proved successful as the girls destroyed their pool by defeating Collegiate, Sterling, Hayden, and Independent. Finding themselves in the championship final, the Williams and her partner fell to a very strong Buhler team 0-6, but claimed the silver medal.
Pleased with what he saw, Kahmeyer said, “To everyone’s surprise, Dani hardly looked like she missed a beat.” She was as dominant at the net as ever and her backhand recovered within a few matches. She impressed me with her stamina and high level of play. The better news is that she and partner Lauren look like they have a season now and that looked pretty bleak a few days ago. They medaled at 10th last year at state, so if Dani can stay healthy, we’ll see what the post season has in store for them!”
The Greenbacks played on Monday at Sterling, and then will see action again on Saturday, September 28 at Garden City.