WINFIELD — Led by the senior doubles team of Katie Bellah and Emily Roets fourth place finish, the Smoky Valley High School tennis team took sixth place at the 4A State Tennis Tournament Saturday in Winfield.
After a fifth place finish in the doubles draw last season, Bellah and Roets one-upped themselves this year, and ended their high school careers by accomplishing what they set out to do.
“We have had a great season,” Head Coach John Bellah said. “I know going into this season that Katie and Emily wanted to make the top four in the state, and go up on the tradition board at the tennis complex. I am very proud of the way they competed at regionals and the state tournament. We haven’t had the best year going into regionals, but they sure stepped it up when they needed to.”
Heading into the state tournament, a top four finish seemed like an uphill battle for the Viking duo. Taking fourth place at regionals meant Bellah and Roets would have to play a first round match, with a second round match against a regional champion.
They won both those matches comfortably, and then won their third straight match on Friday to solidify their spot in the semifinals for Saturday.
But day two of state was not as kind to the Viking duo, who fell to eventual state champions Ellea Ediger and Rachel Ivers of McPherson in the semifinals. Bellah and Roets then fell to Buhler’s Kendra Nachtigal and Michaela Esau 6-3, 6-3 in the third place match.
“What was really cool about the tournament was when Katie and Emily played Ellea and Rachel in the semis, and when the match was over, the parents and players wanted to take pictures with the four doubles players,” Bellah said. “The McPherson girls are great tennis players, but more importantly they are great kids with wonderful families.”
Smoky Valley’s Kira Haxton qualified for state in the singles draw, and brought home a ninth place medal.
Haxton went an impressive 5-2 over the two-day tournament, having qualified for state last season, but did not bring home a medal. Haxton is only a sophomore, and has as much potential as anyone in 4A.
“Kira had a very good tournament,” Bellah said. “She made it to state last year, but wanted to medal this year. Taking ninth is a great way to finish the season.”
The Vikings scored 19 team points, trailing Shawnee Mission-Bishop Miege, Andover Central, Independence, McPherson and Wichita Collegiate.
Contact Gallagher Martin by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GMartinSentinel.