Kansas high school girls tennis state tennis tournaments are scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Class 6A competition will be played in Topeka, 5A in Emporia, 4A in Winfield and 3-1A in Dodge City. Here are five things to watch:
1. Can Lancers make it four straight?
The Shawnee Mission East girls tennis team has been ranked first in Class 6A all season and is the favorite to win the title for the fourth consecutive season. The Lancers qualified six players from the SM North regional, including singles winner Elizabeth Barnickel, who has a 22-2 record. She placed third at state last season, when teammate Olivia Sneed won the individual title. Also playing at state for SM East will be Sarah Wilcox in singles, as well as doublest teams Aidan Epstein and Stephanie Wilcox, and Joi Freirich and Larkin McLiney. SM East will face some 913 area pressure from Blue Valley North, which also qualified six girls from the regional tournament. Karen Yan and Lauren O’Brien will represent the Mustangs in singles, and in doubles North will feature Joanna Blackford and Athena Tran, and Sadye Hendler and Evelyn Chang. The Class 6A state tournament will be played at the Kossover Tennis Center.
2. Can St. James Academy contend in Class 5A?
The Thunder had a strong showing at their regional, where they played host. They qualified five players: freshman Catherine Rieke in singles, who enters with an 18-9 record, and doubles teams Morgan Fangman and Hannah Smith, as well as Gretchen Holthaus and Claire Vedock. Fangman and Smith were regional runners-up and enter the state tournament with a 27-2 record. Holthaus and Vedock placed sixth at the regional. The Class 5A state tournament will be held at Emporia High School.
3. How will Blue Valley fare in singles?
Blue Valley’s Alexa Tiefel and Morgan Steffes won the Class 6A doubles state title last season, but elected to play singles in big tournaments this year. So far, it has worked well for them. Tiefel enters the state tournament with a 21-4 record after she placed second in the Shawnee Mission North regional. Steffes, who won the Eastern Kansas League singles title, has lost just once and has a 14-1 record. She placed third at the regional. They are Blue Valley’s only qualifiers, but certainly have veteran experience that should help them make a deep run at state.
4. Where will Blue Valley West end up in 5A?
Blue Valley West placed fifth in the Class 6A state tournament last season, but a new classification could be beneficial. Brylin Staats has struggled this season and has an 18-11 record entering the state tournament, but she likely gained momentum and confidence from her regional championship in singles. She will be joined at state by doubles teammates Madelyn Comeau and Lauren Strohs, who placed fifth and have a 14-14 record.
5. Does Kansas City Christian have another singles contender?
Sara Goodwin had a good run that included back-to-back Class 3-2-1A state championships during her four years, but there may be a new star on the rise. Freshman Anna Vialle has lost just once this season and won the Immaculata regional last weekend. The Panthers also have a powerful doubles team in Jenny Jenkins and Callie Eldred, who placed second at the regional. They have a 12-3 record. Alexis Termini and Sophie Hall finished sixth and have a 5-4 record.