For the second straight week, the Pratt High girls’ tennis team faced a Saturday/Monday quick turnaround, but at the Sterling Quad, the Greenbacks fared much better.
Facing Russell, South Barber, Sterling and the strongest wind of the season, the Girls in Green battled to a 25-point 1st place tie with Sterling. South Barber earned eight points on the day, and Russell wasn’t able to win a match to score any points.
With Lauren McClain moving back to #1 doubles with last year’s partner Dani Williams, Jade Hoover took over the reigns at #1 singles and pocketed a silver medal, going 2-1 in round-robin play. Demolishing Russell and South Barber 8-0, Hoover’s toughest match of the day was facing Sterling’s Madi Thrasher, a freshman with only one loss on the season. Hoover confounded the crafty player and pulled to within 5-6, only to see Thrasher pull out the next two games to take the 8-5 win.
Pleased with her effort, coach Larry Kahmeyer said, “Jade played her as well as anyone I’ve seen yet this year. Had the wind been a little less intense, it might have even been closer. Jade doesn’t like to lose to anyone, but to get five games on this girl was a solid effort.”
Reunited for the first time this season, partners McClain and Williams picked up right where they left off from last season. After six weeks recovering from a broken left wrist, Williams was finally cleared to play. The duo went 3-0, defeating Russell 8-1, Sterling 8-4, and South Barber 8-2 to claim gold.
“For the first time this season, things finally seemed “normal,” commented Kahmeyer. “Without Dani, it’s been difficult finding our best match-ups, so it was great to be back in a familiar set-up. Working together, the girls battled some rust here and there - especially in the middle round with Sterling - but they rose to the challenge. As four-year varsity players, they’ve never lost this tournament, so it was great to see them win out.”
At #2 singles, Ellie Brehm followed Hoover’s pattern, going 2-1 for 2nd. Brehm had to work a little harder for wins over Russell 8-7 (7-4), and South Barber 8-2, and fell to Sterling’s Mac Thrasher, a seasoned player with an unpredictable game. Brehm was down pulled within 4-5 before trading off a few games to fall 5-8.
“Many of our parents have commented how much Ellie has improved since the beginning of the season, and I have to agree,” said Kahmeyer. “She’s never complained about the competition she’s had to face; she’s always been focused and very coachable and she fights for every possible point. She’s playing her best tennis as we go into the last few tournaments.”
Page 2 of 2 - At #2 doubles, Allicia Hall and Elee Hampton continued their success, going 3-0 for 1st. Defeating Russell 8-1, Sterling 8-5, and South Barber 8-2, the girls were never seriously challenged, but worked on eliminating mistakes and grabbing more points at the net.
“Allicia and Elee are just a few unforced errors away from being a really dangerous team,” Kahmeyer said. “They’ve gotten so much better at covering the court and picking off volleys. Now if we can just eliminate a few groundstrokes to the net, double faults, and short lobs, these girls can be a very good team. We’ve got some practice time, so that’s what our focus will be.”
This Saturday will see the Greenbacks back in action as they depart at daybreak for the tough Garden City tournament. After that, they have only the Central Kansas League meet left before heading into regionals.