McPherson High’s girls made an immediate impact in their first foray into Class 4A tennis last year.
The Bullpups finished third at state, led by the state champion doubles team of Kirsten Holle and Moira Pyle.
The Bullpups qualified all six players last year and repeated that feat Monday when they won the Class 4A regional at the MHS Tennis Complex.
But it’s a different type of team this year. The Bullpups’ regional championship was achieved by consistent play, as they won without the benefit of a championship.
“We’d like to get a plaque, maybe a third place,” first-year MHS coach Tyler Brown said. “But Topeka Hayden has all six of their girls qualified and there’s others that got almost their whole teams in. To get that third, we’ll really have to show up and play well.”
The Bullpups’ best bet probably is from the all-sophomore doubles team of Camry Holle and Emily Ediger, 26-10 on the year. They finished second in the regional.
Vickie Dukart and Jessica Steffen of Buhler (27-5) won the MHS regional. Other regional champions were Kelsey Porter and Tyra Welch of Independence (29-6), Keli Dunn and Lindsay Funke of Wichita Collegiate (10-2) and Jaimie Myers and Jenna Pelter of Hayden (30-2), a team many believe to be the best.
MHS also will enter the all-junior team of Brooke Bate and Taylor Swartzendruber (21-13), who at times can play on par with Holle and Ediger.
In singles, the Bullpups face an uphill climb. Senior Allison Ivers (19-18) and junior Katherine Geist (21-14) were third and sixth, respectively, in the regional.
Brooke Withrow of Wichita Collegiate is the prohibitive favorite, as she’s 28-0 and could be the best player in any class. Hesston’s Ali Anderson (28-3) won the MHS regionals, while other champions were Abbi Groff of Independence (29-6) and Paige Williams of DeSoto (32-3).
Smoky Valley senior Jessica Van Ranken (20-13) will be the Vikings’ lone representative. She took Anderson to three sets this past Monday in the fourth meeting of the year between them.
Play Friday starts at 11:30 a.m., with Saturday’s action at 9 a.m.