Pratt, Kan.—Freezing wind and rain postponed the 4A Girls Regional tennis competition in Pratt. Originally scheduled for Saturday, the competition was moved to Sunday.
Most of the athletes said they were excited to play in better weather, while it gave others more time to become anxious.
"We were ready for yesterday," said Smith's partner Anna Mankoski. "We won our first one and lost our second one, so we really had to win our third one to make it to state. It was nerve-wrecking."
In the end, Wichita Collegiate was as dominant as it has been all year. Head Coach Dave Hawley and his girls swept the competition with 25 team points. The enire Collegiate team will pack their bags for the state tournament.
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"We have a lot of good girls on the team that work hard," said Hawley. " They push each other in practice every day and there are expectations that they are going to do well and fight to do well. This was kind of a stressful day. We got pushed a lot by some really good players and I am pleased that happened because that made us be better."
Defending state champion Collegiate's Brooke Withrow went untouched throughout the entire tournament. She finished off her finals opponent, Wichita Trinity's Amber Zimmerman, in the same fashion 6-0 and 6-0. Withrow said she was able to get up on opponents so quickly because of the support from her teammates.
"I had my teammates watching me and supporting me," she said. "It's a great feeling having your teammates cheering you on during a match. It definitely helps me play."
Hawley said not only is Withrow an excellent player, she is also an asset to the team.
"She's amazing," He said. "It's like having an extra ace in your hand because you know she is going to show up and play and she's going to work hard. She sets the example of how we practice, how we focus for matches and how we compete."
Collegiate's Jaya Mantovani took third place over Larned's Jessica Johnson in a tight match 5-7, 6-3, and 6-2.
"I was down the first set and lost it," Mantovani said. "Then I won the second and third one. It took me a while to warm up I guess. She (Johnson) has a very difficult style of play and her serve is really big so I hope to see her again at state."
Johnson was the only Larned player to qualify for state and she is proud to be the lone representative for her school.
"It means a lot of hard work has paid off," Johnson said. "Of course everyone there is going to be a great player so qualifying makes you feel great. Like you have worked that hard to belong among the best."
The final singles match of the day placed Wellington's Savannah Cornejo in fifth over Winfield's Emily Sarnacki 6-1 and 6-1. However, both also qualfied for the state tournament.
The championship doubles match up brought Collegiate's present against it's future. Either way the team came out on top but Collegiate seniors Keli Dunn and Lindsay Funke defeated their freshman teammates Hannah Osland and Morgan Bergen 6-2 and 6-0.
"It's exciting knowing that we are such a strong team," Funke said. "We had to pretend they weren't our teammates. We love them but we had to play the best we could and put away our volleys and keep the ball in play."
The freshmen knew they were at a disadvantage but were just excited to qualify for the state tournament.
"We won technically," said Bergen. "We're all going to state."
"We've played them before and we did pretty good but this time we tried to do some new things to see how it went but we could have played better," Osland said.
Hawley said Collegiate's freshman team was only the tip of the iceberg. They have a lot of developing to do but he can see them continually improving.
"We have three really good freshman and we had to pick two," Hawley said. "They have had pressure in practice to play well. I think they are going to show up at state well and they are really excited about it. I've seen them play some phenomenal tennis this year and this tournament was not their best. The next tournament will be their best because they want to do well at state."
The hometown team earned one state tournament berth for their doubles team. Pratt's Dani Williams and Lauren McClain finished a tough match against Wellington's Kelsey Whaley and Peyton Adams for third place 6-2 and 6-4. It will be Williams' first year at state while it will be McClain's first year at state with a doubles partner.
"I went my freshman and sophomore year in singles but Dani's partner graduated this year so I decided to switch to doubles," McClain said. "So this is our first year going to state together and we are hoping to do pretty good."
The final doubles state qualifiers were Winfield's Ashley Smith and Anna Mankoski and Wellington's Kailey Jenkins and Ashley Collins. Smith and Mankoski managed to pull out the win 6-2 and 6-2 and are extremely excited to go to state for the first time together.
"Being qualified for state means a lot to us because it was our goal this year," Smith said. "It made it special because this is her first year and my third, but our first together. We just want to stay positive, work together, just have fun and be sure to enjoy the experience."