MAIZE, Kan.—After ending their season at regionals last year, the Maize South High School tennis players sent a full team to the recent state tournament. Sophomore Gwyneth Schuler placed third in the singles bracket.
The girls’ 2012 finish was a marked improvement from 2011, but it wasn’t something coach Mike Domnick would have predicted at the beginning of the season.
Maize South fielded a young team, and the Mavericks moved from Class 4A to 5A. Most of the girls were singles players, and many had to adapt to doubles competition.
“Some of these singles players we had, all they ever knew how to play was singles,” said Domnick.
Schuler and Marcy Cuestas, a junior, are the squad’s veteran singles players. As a result, coaches worked to find the best doubles combinations this season.
“A lot of times with doubles it’s about chemistry and how one skill set matches up with another kid’s,” said Domnick.
The Mavericks placed third in their Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League tournament. This was their first year in Division II. Schuler, who finished third in singles, was their highest placer.
However, Maize South shined at the Class 5A regional tournament and won the team championship. Schuler earned the regional singles crown.
For a team that did not appear in the Kansas Tennis Coaches Association rankings, it was an impressive achievement.
“We went over to regionals in Valley Center and won a team title,” said Domnick, “which is very important to our program. We’re only four years into it. To get some of that notoriety is really neat.”
Schuler and Cuestas advanced to state, along with the doubles teams of Taylor White-Mariah Suchan and Karli Kubik-Addie Hermanson. All the girls are juniors except Schuler.
Schuler beat Andover Central’s Amy Fugit, who was the AVCTL Division II champion, in three sets at state. Following a victory over Topeka West’s Claudia Boretti, Schuler fell to Bishop Carroll’s Courtney Lubbers 6-0, 6-0 in state semifinals.
Domnick said Lubbers was probably a better player than Schuler. However, he added, “She’s not 6-0, 6-0 better.”
Schuler was down as a result of her performance, Domnick continued, and he was proud of her for coming back and playing well in the third-place match. Schuler beat Emporia’s Ashley DeBauge 6-3, 6-1 for third.
“She was very excited,” Domnick recalled. “Gwyn just loves her tennis.”
Cuestas, the other singles player, and both of Maize South’s doubles teams lost their first rounds at state in three sets. Domnick said that Cuestas had a rotator cuff problem this year that seemed to worsen as the season progressed.
“I think she really gave it a different effort at state,” he said. “If she plays that way the majority of next year as a senior, I think she’ll have a lot of success.”
Since Maize South will not lose any seniors to graduation, the future looks promising for the Maverick tennis program. One of Maize South’s doubles teams won the junior varsity league title with ease, said Domnick.
He hopes to see all the girls play in the offseason and continue to improve.
“What it’s going to take is everyone getting out and hitting,” said Domnick. “Hopefully they understand that they’re close to being a really good team, and those three doubles teams understanding there’s going to be some competition for their positions.”