Taylor Bruce and CeAnna Allen jokingly admitted that they entertained the thought of going undefeated in doubles this season. However, they didn't think it would happen.Well, 27-straight wins later, it is still a shock to the duo and McPherson tennis coach Tyler Brown that they remained undefeated going into regionals.
"We had a feeling that they were capable of having an excellent year, and to guess they be undefeated at this point—I don't know if we ever thought that would happen, but we knew they were the favorite coming back," Brown said.
The team of Allen and Bruce is one of the top doubles teams in the state after an unbeaten regular season with the chance of being the No. 1 seed at state. The main reason for their success is their maturity level while being on the same page with each other.
"Honestly, we both have our off days, and I think last year we got more frustrated with each other when we had our bad days rather than keeping our spirits up, and this year we've done that way better," Bruce said. "Last year, we lost to people we shouldn't lose to, and this year it kind of pushed us to have an easy match to win it instead of just going down to their level and then losing it."
"We just have the momentum to keep rolling throughout the season,” Allen continued. "It also helps that we don't get into our heads anymore. It's cool to see how much we have grown since last season."
Bruce admitted that she wants to be the next Ellea Ediger, a former Bullpup standout who qualified for state all four years alongside her doubles partner Rachel Ivers. Both Allen and Bruce enjoyed watching her while she was in McPherson.
"They weren't undefeated, and so for us to go into regionals undefeated is pretty awesome," Bruce said. "She's a big role model. We all looked up to Ellea."
Brown can see the similar traits between Bruce and Ediger but didn't give specific details. One thing that Bruce and Ediger do have in common is their success rate at McPherson.
"It seems like the time they stepped in as a freshman to their senior year, and they have been making noise," Brown said. "The similarities are there, but it's tough to compare player to player, but both are excellent players and have been great for the program."
Bruce and Allen may be 27-0, but it was not a walk-in-a-park for them. Every match, they had to earn their way to victory. One of their toughest matches included the AVCTL Division III-IV Championship on Monday, where they beat top-ranked Wichita Collegiate's doubles team in the finals.
Other tough matches Brown mentioned was their win against Arkansas City and their semifinal battle against St. James Academy in the Salina Central Invitational. Brown knows that his girls have been battle-tested, and hopes to see more consistency throughout the postseason.
"At this point, you can't take any time off or take anybody for granted," Brown said. "I want to see consistency and keep going because if you dip it all at this point, your season is over. I want to see them meet the goals that I know they said individually."
Bruce commits to Fort Hays State
On Wednesday afternoon, Bruce confirmed to the McPherson Sentinel that she has verbally committed to Fort Hays State for women's tennis. The senior made the official announcement via social media.
"I'm super excited to announce that I will be furthering my education and tennis career at Fort Hays State University," Bruce said via Instagram. "Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way."
The main reason she chose Fort Hays State is the nursing program she is looking to pursue after graduation.
"Their nursing program is pretty phenomenal, and they gave me a pretty good offer so that I couldn't turn it down," Bruce said.
It also helps that Ediger, who is a sophomore at Fort Hays, is on the women's tennis roster. Bruce is looking forward to teaming up with the person she has looked up to throughout her tennis career.
Bruce and Allen took fourth at state last season and have qualified in the last three seasons. Bruce is also a stand out on the McPherson softball team.
Regionals for McPherson will begin on Saturday at 10 a.m at Salina Central High School.
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter@Petes_Picks_