SALINA — In one of the biggest tournaments in the state, the McPherson High School girls tennis team showed they can compete with the best of the best.

Led by the doubles team of Taylor Bruce and CeAnna Allen, the Bullpups took first at the Salina Central Invitational. Bruce and Allen went 4-0 for first place, while all four McPherson entries made at least the quarterfinals.

McPherson finished with 113 team points while second-place Salina South scored 107. Head coach Tyler Brown wanted to see how his team stacked up with the best competition in 6A and 5A, and he received his answer.

“We needed a collective effort to see how we stacked up today against some of the best in the state and we got exactly that,” Brown said. “It was a great day to be a Bullpup.” 

Bruce and Allen were not tested until the semifinals. The duo had to outlast St. James Academy in a tiebreaker, 8-7 (8), then capped off the day with an impressive win over Ark City in the championship, 8-6.

“I felt like CeAnna Allen stepped up in a big way today,” Brown said. “She was clutch coming up big in the semifinals on a match point going for a big backhand while transitioning into the net, hitting a clean winner to secure their place in the finals. In the finals, Taylor and CeAnna stayed the course defeating a very good Ark City team which was half of the state championship doubles team of last year.”

Senior Rachel Carlson made her season debut at singles and did not disappoint. Carlson advanced to the quarterfinals before losing a close match to Elise Schreiner of Topeka Seaman. Carlson rebounded with a pair of straightforward wins to capture fifth place. 

Carley Malm also began the day 2-0 in singles before the freshman was slowed down by a knee injury. Malm was able to finish eighth, but was not the same toward the end of the day.

The doubles team of Perrin Schneider and Sydney Achilles finished 3-2 for sixth, but were highly competitive in all five matches.