The McPherson High School girls tennis team knew going into Saturday’s Class 4A Regional Tennis semifinals at MHS they were sending all six competitors to the state tournament this weekend in Winfield.
That didn’t stop the Bullpups from giving their all, handily winning the regional championship with 23 team points behind a first-place finish from freshman Ellea Ediger in the singles bracket and a second-place medal for the senior duo of Emily Ediger and Camry Holle in the doubles division.
Also earning medals was the doubles team of Brooke Bate and Taylor Swartzendruber and singles competitor Katlyn Reifschneider, all of whom placed third in the competition. Also advancing to state with a fifth place finish was Smoky Valley’s Hannah Morrical.
“The depth of this team is awesome,” MHS coach Tyler Brown said. “From our best player to our 16th on the ladder, our girls can compete. Almost everyone on our team found themselves down in at least one match at regionals and found a way to get back into it, that really shows how far this team has come. We are figuring out how to make matches competitive even if we are not playing our best tennis and finding a way to win.”
Brown especially made note of the play of Ellea Ediger, who didn’t drop a game throughout the tournament until the finals Saturday against Abilene senior Kinsey Ford, who also gave Reifschneider a three-set war before advancing to face Ediger in the finals.
Ediger won her three pre-championship matches with scores of 6-0, 6-0, before winning Saturday’s singles championship 6-1, 6-2. She enters the state tournament Friday in Topeka with a season record of 27-9.
Reifschneider (13-5) fell to Ford in the semis 6-4, 6-7 (1), 3-6. She came back in the third place game and defeated Chapman’s Rachel Sutter. Scores for that match were unavailable.
Morrical went three sets with Abilene’s Marissa Schardein to open up consolation play, winning 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. Shen then defeated Briana Elliot of Chapman in straight sets to claim fifth and a spot at state, winning 6-0, 6-3.
In the doubles bracket, both McPherson teams had to face the daunting Wamego sister act of Kaylee and Lanie Page, who entered the tournament undefeated on the season, leaving the same way.
Bate and Swartzendruber had the first crack at the Pages in the semifinals, falling in straight sets 2-6, 3-6. They defeated Chapman’s Brittany Duer and Jessie Heiman to take third place, however, winning 6-4, 6-4.
The Chapman duo had fallen to the MHS team of Emily Ediger and Holle in the semifinals, with the Pups easily advancing to the championship match 6-0, 6-2.
Page 2 of 2 - That set up a showdown with the the Page sisters, which went to a tiebreaker to determine the champion. The Pages took the first set 6-2, but Ediger and Holle fought back to win set two 6-2. The Pages then took a hard-fought set three 7-6 (7-5).
“Camryn and Emily,” Brown said, “coming back 2-5 in the championship match to get it to a tie-breaker and then to have a few match-points just showed how much we wanted it. And that goes for everybody.”
Ediger and Holle will enter state play Friday with a record of 23-7, while Bate and Swartzendruber are 21-11. The Page sisters will come to the T.H. Vaughn Tennis Center in Winfield with a record of 26-0.
Brown believes his team is ready to compete in Winfield, which will see a new Class 4A champion crowned for the first time since 2010, as Wichita Collegiate has moved down to Class 3A.
“These girls have busted their tails,” Brown said, “all summer long and with the short, two-month season. Give a big credit, as well, to the summer program. It kind of leads right in to us high school coaches taking over for the next two months. If you don’t start your program until Aug. 19, it’s tough to make a deep run.”
Chapman was second in the team scoring with 13 points, followed by Abilene (9), Wamego (7), Smoky Valley (5), Clay Center (1), Concordia (1), Colby (0), Russell (0) and Scott City (0).
Contact Chris Swick by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @SwickSentinel.