HESSTON, Kan.—After making the jump up to 4A mid-season, the Wichita Collegiate Spartans found themselves in one of if not the toughest regional tournaments in the state. But that did not stop them from taking first place in both the singles, and doubles brackets to pick up 20 team points to leave Hesston with a team victory.
“We didn’t lose a match today, against the very best,” said Collegiate head coach Dave Hawley. “And I mean the very best. We just played, and we battled, in two matches from a set down and figured out a way to win. And that is just why you coach.”
Along with Top-Ranked Collegiate at the Hesston regional, was nearly every other power player in 4A tennis, including No. 4 Wellington, No. 5 Hesston, and Maize South. With the unbelievable amount of talent packed into one regional, no trip to Pratt came easily.
Collegiate brought the defending 3A doubles championship team of Grace LeMaster and Jillian Johnson to Hesston, and the champs only made it to the quarterfinals before being knocked into the consolation bracket by Hesston’s Rachel Shogren and Ashley Weaver.
The hardware in LeMaster and Johnson’s trophy cases didn’t impress the tough field and the pair had to play their way into the fifth place match to even secure a trip back to state.
Although Collegiate’s defending champions had a tough time, the team of Keli Dunn and Lindsay Funke stepped up for the Spartans to take the regional doubles title with a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Shogren and Weaver.
“We just took every point like it was our last one,” said Dunn.
Taking first place in such a tough tournament has the pair looking forward to the state tournament in Pratt.
“I think that gave us a lot of confidence that we needed to go into state so we should do pretty well, we hope,” said Dunn.
Shogren and Weaver made it to the championship match after beating LeMaster and Johnson, and then outlasting the Buhler duo of Krysta Wiens and Vickie Dukart in a marathon 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 semifinal match.
In the singles bracket, it was another old MCAA rivalry showdown between Collegiate and Hesston. Brooke Withrow for the Spartans lived up to the top seed, losing only one game on her way to the finals where she met the No. 3 seed Ali Anderson from Hesston. Anderson put up a fight but could not overcome Withrow who won with a 6-0, 6-0 performance.
“I wanted this win for the team,” said Withrow. “I didn’t want it for myself. We have a strong team this year and we all pulled through so it’s a good feeling at the end of the day now that we have all played to the best of our abilities.”
Although the final score showed a shutout, Anderson gave Withrow all she wanted.
“(Anderson) played very well today,” said Withrow. “I got lucky. She played on her home court and I was nervous going into the match because I knew she was more comfortable on these courts than I am. She played very well today and I give her a lot of credit for that.”
Much like Collegiate’s LeMaster and Johnson, the No. 2 seed in the singles bracket Esther Cho had to grind it out for Collegiate, coming from way behind to beat Gwyneth Schuler from Maize South 6-4, 6-0 to get to the fifth-place match to qualify for state.
Below are the six singles, and doubles qualifiers to the state tournament:
1. Brooke Withrow (Collegiate) def.
2. Ali Anderson (Hesston) 6-0, 6-0.
3. Shayla Roath (Buhler) def.
4. Bridget Winter (Buhler) 6-3, 7-5.
5. Esther Cho (Collegiate) def.
6. Erianne Adams (Wellington) 6-4, 6-0
1. Keli Dunn/Lindsay Funke (Collegiate) def.
2. Rachel Shogren/Ashley Weaver (Hesston) 6-0, 6-3.
3. Dani Anderson/Kailey Jenkins (Wellington) def.
4. Krysta Wiens/Vickie Dukart (Buhler) 6-4, 6-4.
5. Grace LeMaster/Jillian Johnson (Collegiate) def.
6. Danika Good/Morgan Schrock (Hesston) 6-3, 6-3.