KANSAS CITY — Makenzie Archer, Elyria’s first state qualifier in girls tennis, finished up a great weekend on Saturday with a ninth-place finish at the 3-2-1A State Tennis Tournament.
She opened the tournament on Friday morning with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Morgan Leiker from Victoria High School. Next she faced Lily McNeil, from Kansas City Christian High School, the tournament’s No.1 overall seed. She played well, but couldn’t string enough points together to get over the hump, and ultimately lost 6-1, 6-0.
The rest of the matches on Friday were elimination matches. Her first match on the back side was a cake walk. She was pitted against Ella Barrett from Perry-Lecompton High School, and defeated her easily 9-0.
Her fourth and final match of the day was the most exciting. She faced Sydney Roe, a senior from Kingman High School, who is a talented player. Archer got up early in the set 4-1, but Roe came back and won three straight games to tie the score at 4-4. Archer felt the pressure in her next service game, but didn’t wilt. She held serve to go up 5-4, and from there didn’t lose another game, and took the set 9-4. It was easily her best, most complete performance of the season, and it earned her a spot in the medal round.
Weather in the Kansas City area postponed play for a couple of hours on Saturday morning. The rain finally subsided and play was started around noon. Archer faced a familiar foe in her opening match of the day, Lily Perrin of Sacred Heart High School. The two had faced each other three other times this season with Lily winning all three of those matches. Archer won the opening game of the nine game pro-set, but after that couldn’t find and answer for Perrin’s style of play, and she dropped the next nine games in a row.
Archer was disappointed in her performance against Perrin, but bounced back in her next match against Molly Schmanke from Conway Springs. Schmanke is very athletic, and the type of player that gives Archer fits because she can track down any ball and force you to have to play one more shot. Archer had a brilliant game plan against Schmanke, mixing in angles, dropshots, and lobs to perfection, keeping her off balance throughout the match. In the end she won rather easily 9-2 and solidified her spot in the top 10.
There were no cupcakes in the medal round. All 12 competitors that survived Friday, did so for a reason. Someone was going to go 0-3 on the day and finish 12th. By winning at least one match Archer would avoid 12th place, and it would ensure her no worse than a 4-3 overall record in her first state tournament.
She accomplished that goal against Schwanke. In her final match she took on Savanah Noel, the runner up at the Phillipsburg Regional. Noel opened the match by winning her service game. Archer responded by winning seven of the next eight games to take a 7-2 lead. Noel broke to cut the lead to 7-3, but at that point it was too late. Archer broke to go up 8-3 and then served out the set, winning 9-3. On match point she hit a beautiful cross court back hand for a clean winner to close out the set.
She finished the tournament going 5-2 and for the season she was 29-12. It was an emotional, nerve wracking year, but in the end it was all worth it.