As senior Elizabeth Barnickel’s career at Shawnee Mission East came to an end at the Kossover Tennis Center in mid-October in Topeka, coach Sue Chipman lauded her patience.
That diligence was best evident as Barnickel won the Kansas Class 6A singles state title and led the Lancers to a fourth consecutive team title. It was Barnickel’s fourth top-five finish in four years, after finishing fifth her freshman year and third in her sophomore and junior seasons.
She is The Star’s All-Metro girls tennis player of the year.
At the state tournament in October, however, Barnickel broke through and defeated teammate Sarah Wilcox in the semifinals, then handed Washburn Rural’s Madeline Hill her first loss of the season in the state championship match. Barnickel dropped just six games across four matches at the state tournament.
“Elizabeth has shown the greatest tenacity over her four years,” Chipman said. “I have seen improvement every year and she consistently works on stuff she knows she needs to improve on. This year, she put it all together and it paid off.”
Barnickel won a Sunflower League title and regional title, as well, and finished the season with a 25-2 record. Her two losses occurred against fellow All-Metro first-teamers Morgan Steffes and Alexa Tiefel of Blue Valley.
“She was a great role model for the team and a great team leader,” Chipman said. “She put in her time and paid her dues. She absolutely deserves this honor.”
The Star’s All-Metro girls tennis team
Elizabeth Barnickel, SM East, senior. She helped the Lancers capture their fourth consecutive Kansas Class 6A state championship by winning the singles title. Barnickel, the Sunflower League champion, went 25-2 this season with her only losses coming to Morgan Steffes and Alexa Tiefel of Blue Valley.
Morgan Steffes, Blue Valley, senior. Steffes, the four-time Eastern Kansas League champion, was undefeated until regional play. She dropped a match to SM East’s Elizabeth Barnickel and fell to state runner-up Madeline Hill in the quarterfinals. She placed fifth in Kansas Class 6A with a 19-2 record.
Alexa Tiefel, Blue Valley, junior. One year after winning a Kansas Class 6A doubles title with Morgan Steffes, Tiefel set out on her own. She finished 23-5 with a second place finish in the her regional and took fourth in Kansas Class 6A.
Sarah Wilcox, SM East, freshman. Even though she is only in her first year of high school competition, Wilcox cemented herself as one of the top competitors in the area. She went 24-5 and finished third in Kansas Class 6A after losing to teammate and eventual state champion Elizabeth Barnickel in the semifinals.
Notre Dame de Sion (Michaela Henne, senior and Margo Gerke, sophomore). The Missouri Class 2 state champions were 14-2 this season, and they avenged both their regular-season losses in the playoffs. They didn't drop a set in the postseason and also helped Notre Dame de Sion to a third-place team finish at state.
Shawnee Mission West (Katherine Cao, junior and Josephine Cao, junior). The Kansas Class 6A doubles state champion sisters finished with a commanding 20-1 record. Their lone loss came against the defending state champions from Blue Valley, who split up to play singles at state.