Post season play is and always will be the most important time of the year for an athlete. The tension rises, the regular season is no longer what defines you, and everyone is looking for the chance to be named the best.
The state tournament is a place the Wichita Collegiate girl's tennis team has been before. In fact, the Spartans won their fourth consecutive state title only a little more than a month ago.
I have very little experience with the game of tennis, but as a former high school and college athlete I have the utmost respect for female competitors and their ability to perform at a high level. I was given the opportunity to cover the state tennis tournament at Emporia in October, and as I walked up to the courts I had big hopes of witnessing stellar competition and the desire to win.
Fortunately I was given more than I had anticipated.
Collegiate wins fourth consecutive state title
Many talented young women were heavy in battle when I arrived for semi-final play. The squeaks of their shoes matched the intensity that beamed through their eyes. I’ve always been impressed with the amount of coordination and finesse it takes to perfect a tennis swing, but when I watched Collegiate’s Brooke Withrow compete with Abbi Groff from Independence in the singles championship I was stunned at how easy they made it look.
Brooke Withrow won last year’s singles title, and she made certain no one believed her to be a "one-win wonder". Withrow beat Groff 6-0, 6-0 and afterward, she thanked no one else but her teammates for her dominant success. The selflessness of a two-time champion had definitely been brought to the forefront.
The depth to this team was incredible. Collegiate freshmen Morgan Bergan and Hannah Osland had made their way to the double’s championship game, and their opponent was none other than their teammates, seniors Keli Dunn and Lindsay Funke.
All four played like veterans in the championship match, which made for an exceptionally competitive match up. Audience members were glued to their seats waiting for the final point even if they were not Collegiate fans. Freshmen Bergan and Osland came out on top winning the tiebreaker 7-5.
The seniors pushed the freshmen, while the freshmen tested the seniors. It was anyone’s game, but no matter what, it belonged to Wichita Collegiate. The Spartans dominated the tournament with a score of 68, Independence won second as they halved the Spartans score with a 33.
After a full day of watching competitive tennis, I had a new admiration for the athletes who competed in the state tournament. The much deserved trophies were handed to the exhausted players, but all-in-all they each held a smile on their face which declared a feeling of victory regardless of the place they finished in.