Shawnee Mission East senior Olivia Sneed continued her unbeaten run through high school singles tennis at the Class 6A regional Saturday.
By CHARLES REDFIELD
Special to The Star
Blue Valley captured its first regional doubles crown at the event, which was hosted by Blue Valley North at the Indian Creek Tennis Center.
The top six in singles and doubles qualified for the state tournament, which will be held Oct. 18-19 at Maize South.
Sneed, who is playing high school tennis for the first time, easily improved her record to 20-0. She defeated junior teammate Elizabeth Barnickle in the singles championship match, 6-2, 6-0.
Barnickle will take a 22-2 record to state, with her only two losses coming to Sneed. She finished third at state last year as a sophomore.
Sneed has been highly successful in tennis, winning numerous Missouri Valley Tennis Association titles since she was 12. She turns 18 in January.
“I was ranked in the top 10 in 16s (nationally by the United States Tennis Association) and in the top 20 in 18s,” she said.
Until this year, she was a year-round tennis player for coach Eric Rand at Kansas City United Tennis at the Plaza Tennis Center.
What made her come out for high school tennis this year?
“I felt I owed it to my school,” she said. “The college coaches aren’t watching club now, so I figured this would be a good way to end my career.”
She isn’t sure about college at this point.
What is the key to her success?
“Staying focused and going easy on myself,” she said.
The Blue Valley doubles team of junior Morgan Steffes and sophomore Alexa Tiefel didn’t have a lot of trouble with the SM East doubles team of senior Stephanie Wilcox and sophomore Aidan Epstein winning 6-2, 6-1.
“We have won some regional singles championships, but this is our first doubles title,” Blue Valley coach Nelson Elliott said.
The pair had only played doubles in dual matches and came in with a 9-1 record and the top seed.
“They wanted to do it because they thought they could win,” Elliott said. “They can come back next year and play singles.”
Steffes said, “We like playing together and we are good friends.”
“This (doubles) is less stressful,” Tiefel said. “The key (to doubles success) is communication between partners.”
In singles, the SM West sophomore Cao twins made it state for the second consecutive year.
Both loss in the semifinals, so they met in the third-place match.
Katherine Cao beat Josephine Cao, 6-2, 6-1.
“Katherine placed fourth at state last year and Josephine was 10th,” SM West coach Paige Salveter said.
SM East will be favored to win its third consecutive 6A state team title.