The Shawnee Mission East girls’ tennis team is well on its way to a second straight state title.
By KATHLEEN GIER
The Kansas City Star
Its doubles team of Stephanie Wilcox and Aidan Epstein advanced to this morning’s Kansas 6A semifinals in Wichita, as well as Olivia Sneed and Elizabeth Barnickel on the singles side.
In fact, its two singles players could meet in the finals. Sneed will face Madeline Hill from Washburn Rural, and Barnickel will face Alexis Czapinski of Lawrence-Free State.
On the other side of the 6A bracket is Blue Valley’s doubles team of Morgan Steffes and Alexa Tiefel, who will face Kylee White and Lindsay Haight of Blue Valley Northwest.
“They need to do what they do best, which is Morgan with her good, aggressive service winners and hitting winners and staying away from errors,” Blue Valley head coach Nelson Elliott said. “They just need to play well and play the way they can, which is very athletically, and they’ll be fine, but it’s going to be a tough match.”
The winner will face Mollie Magee and Erica Chang of Olathe East or Wilcox and Epstein of Shawnee Mission East in the final. Today’s 6A play will begin at 9 a.m. at Maize South High school.
In 5A action in Arkansas City, Allie Shulte of Kapaun advanced from a No. 3 seed to the semifinals, joining top-seeded players Courtney Lubbers of Bishop Carroll, Ashley DeBauge of Emporia and Do-hee Lee of Andover.
It was the one and two seeds out of the Goddard and Newton regionals that advanced on the doubles side, meaning Natalie and Nicole Lubbers of Bishop Carroll will face Elizabeth Pringle and Carmen Mindt of Kapaun, and the winners will face Ally Burr and Makenna Gonzales of Arkansas City or Macy Moyers Morgan Francis of Great Bend.
In Topeka, 4A play will resume at 10:30 a.m. today, with Ellea Ediger of McPherson facing Amber Zimmerman of Wichita-Trinity and Abbi Groff of Independence against Megan Wong of Andover Central. In doubles, it’ll be Kaylee and Lanie Page of Wamego playing against Megan Muller and Michelle Voegeli of Topeka-Hayden, while Jessica Steffen and Kendra Nachtigal Buhler will take on Camry Holle and Emily Ediger of McPherson.
In the 3-2-1A group in Pratt, it’s another possible repeat state champion leading the way in Sara Goodwin of Kansas City Christian. She’ll have a tough road ahead, though, taking on freshman Anna Reidmiller of Wichita Independent first and last year’s 4A champion, Brooke Withrow of Wichita-Collegiate, in the championship if they both make it. Withrow will play Heather Koester of Conway Springs in the semifinals.
“She is going to have two really hard matches tomorrow,” Kansas City Christian coach Brad Belden said. “I think it’s just going to be about controlling the point and staying calm, staying positive and winning big points. It’s going to be a really close match so when she has opportunities to win games or to break serve, I think she is going to have to win the big points.”