The Blue Valley North High School girls tennis squad is young, but the Mustangs had little trouble competing with the veteran teams last weekend at the Kansas Class 6A state tournament at the College Boulevard Activity Center.
One singles player and two doubles teams finished among the top four for the Mustangs. Perhaps most impressive is that just one of them is a senior.
“The whole team is pretty young, but they are all very experienced competition players,” Mustangs coach Tracey Johnson said. “They were able to know that every match they had to come out and play to their potential. They executed their plans each match.”
It was Blue Valley North’s first team state title since 2010 and it ended a string of four consecutive team state title victories by Shawnee Mission East. The Lancers placed second and SM West followed in third place, one point ahead of Blue Valley.
Blue Valley North’s Evelyn Chang and Karen Yan topped teammates Athena Tran and Lauren O’Brien 6-0, 6-3, to win the doubles state title. Chang and Yan finished 27-1 on the season.
Mandy Novicoff and Gabby Lee of Blue Valley, who handed Chang and Yan their only loss earlier this season, beat SM East’s Gretchen Cooper and Larkin McLiney in three sets in the third-place doubles match.
Josephine Cao of SM West, meanwhile, capped her high school tennis career with a second straight state title. She defeated SM East’s Sarah Wilcox for the singles championship. Cao won the doubles state title with her sister, Katherine, last year and had to get by Katherine in the state semifinals. Katherine finished fourth, losing to Blue Valley North’s Chloe Kuckelman in the consolation final.
St. James Academy’s Catherine Rieke was the only 913-area player to place in the Kansas Class 5A girls tennis state tournament. She placed sixth, winning five of her seven matches during the competition in Valley Center.
The top 913-area finisher at the Kansas Class 4A girls tennis state tournament was Spring Hill’s Paola Vargas, who wound up in third place in singles. Bishop Miege’s Mary Kate Rielley finished in fifth place and Miege teammates Sara Carlsen and Zoey Slettehaugh placed 10th in doubles.
Kansas City Christian sophomore Anna Vialle was the only 913-area participant to make the semifinals in the Kansas Class 3-2-1A girls tennis state tournament.
She finished fourth in singles after losing her final two matches in three sets. KC Christian teammates Callie Eldred and Alexis Termini placed 12th in doubles.
Maranatha Christian Academy’s Blythe Asbell finished eighth in singles.