A powerful overhead slam by Shawnee Mission South senior Natalie Prauser on Wednesday signaled that the Kansas high school girls tennis fall season is in full swing.
SM South hosted a quad with SM Northwest, Olathe North and Olathe Northwest at the Indian Creek tennis courts in what turned out to be picture-perfect conditions after the opening 30 minutes played out under gray skies.
“It’s good to be back playing,” said Prauser, who teamed up with junior Kylie Hance to play No. 1 doubles for the Raiders. “This is our first time playing together. We’ve played each other in singles, so we know each other’s game and that helps playing doubles together.”
SM Northwest junior Lillian Oliver ripped powerful ground strokes from the baseline during her first match of the day at No. 1 singles. After taking part in a tennis camp over the summer, Oliver said it’s nice to be back playing for the Cougars.
“Playing high school tennis is a different feeling. It’s fun to play with the the team and against other schools,” Oliver said. “And it provides a good outlet from school stress. Sometimes that can overwhelm you, then you have a tennis tournament and it lets you take your frustrations out in a positive way.”
Sisters marked Olathe Northwest’s top doubles team as junior Reagan AufDerHeide and her freshman sibling, Chloe, showed good team chemistry in their opening match.
“I enjoy playing high school tennis,” Reagan said. “When we play doubles together we fight a lot because we get mad at each other sometimes, but in the end it works out.”
Olathe North freshman Naima Patel showed off an impressive serve during her early matches. She said she enjoyed the atmosphere of competing while all eight courts had play going on.
“I’m kind of used to it from playing weekly over the summer, but it’s always nice,” Patel said.
SM South coach Kurt Hodge noted the players were glad to get the season started.
“We’ve been practicing for two weeks, and the girls get tired of practicing against their teammates,” he said. “You couldn’t ask for a better day to play. There’s not much wind and that’s what you want when you’re playing tennis. We played (Tuesday), so these girls are getting in six matches in two days, and that’s a lot of tennis. It’s good conditioning for the end of the year when they might play five matches in one day.”