Tennis a family affair for Salina Central triplets Addison, Claire and Mallory Renfro and father Clark

Dylan Sherwood
Salina Journal
The Renfro family of Claire, Addison, Mallory and Clark pose for a photo after claiming a Class 5A regional championship on Saturday in Newton.

EMPORIA — Whenever Clark Renfro's name comes up in Salina, people automatically think of tennis. 

Well, now there are three more Renfros to keep an eye on for the next four years at Salina Central.

Clark's daughters, triplets Addison, Claire and Mallory, all are freshmen on the Mustangs' girls tennis team. In fact, they make up half of the squad that will represent Central on Friday and Saturday at the Class 5A state tournament in Emporia. 

"We've heard a lot of things about them coming up over the years as young players and at Lakewood (Middle School)," Central coach McKenzie Weishaar said. "For them to get up here finally and become freshmen and not only having a solid player as a freshman (and) a state qualifier but having three of them is unheard of. 

"It's just really exciting to know they're so good at such a young age and they're only going to get better." 

Clark Renfro grew up in Salina, played at Salina Central and then went to Kansas State when the Wildcats had a tennis program. He was a three-year letterman and a captain.

After graduating from K-State, Clark moved to Colorado for 15 years and played in many adult tournaments. He was a ranked tennis player in the Inner Mountain adult rankings. 

In the early 2000s, he moved back to Salina where he met his wife, Amber, and they had the triplets.

"It's been a blur ever since," Clark said. "I love the history that Salina Central tennis has." 

More:Here are the high school athlete of the week and top performers for Oct. 9-14 in Saline County

Renfros got started at an early age

The triplets were born about 30 seconds apart, with Addison first, followed by Mallory and then Claire.

They've been playing tennis since they were 4. They've also done other sports, but tennis was their favorite.

"It's been a blast," Clark said. "It's something they've worked hard at.

"They liked tennis, they liked basketball and track and others, but they really gravitated to tennis. It was fun to be able to go out and work with them and be involved as a family activity."

When his draughters began their freshmen season at Central, Clark also joined Weishaar's staff as an assistant coach. 

Claire and Mallory Renfro are one doubles team while Addison Renfro plays with Mackenzie Nutter

In tennis, it's difficult for three to play together on one team, but hey got an opportunity to play doubles as freshmen. With senior Mackenzie Nutter needing a doubles partner,she was paired with Addison, while Claire and Mallory played together. 

Even though they're currently playing doubles, they can also play singles when needed. 

"They're capitalizing on that," Clark said. "They play a lot together whether the four of us play and one of them teams up with me. They know a lot of the nuances of doubles that I think sometimes other kids don't have the opportunity and they know what each other are thinking and doing."

Addison said she's learned a lot from Nutter as well. Addison and Nutter finished third at regionals. 

"She's helped me a lot with my game and we've definitely made a lot of progress from the first time we played (together) to regionals," Addison said. "Me and Mackenzie played really well that last game. It was just super fun." 

With Claire and Mallory playing together, they can read each other's reactions and give pointers while they're on the court, with Addison and Clark watching from the stands. 

"It's really fun because we can usually tell each other if we need help with something," Mallory said. 

Claire said it's special for their family to play tennis as a family activity. 

"I think that (it's) also special for us like to bond in our sport," Claire said. 

Even with Addison playing with Nutter, Claire and Mallory can observe and give her pointers when needed. 

"If they tell me I need to work on something, I learn a lot from that, and just analyzing that stuff," Addison said. 

Salina Central to send entire team to state with first-year coach 

Along with the Renfros, singles players Janae Montoya and Katelyn Rupe and Nutter will make the trip to Emporia on Friday and Saturday for the state tournament.

Claire and Mallory Renfro finished sixth at regionals, while Addison Renfro and Nutter took third. Montoya won the singles regional championship and Rupe placed fourth. 

The Mustangs are one of two teams in 5A that will field an entire six-member team at this weekend's state tournament. Four of the six representatives are freshmen while Montoya is a sophomore and Nutter is a senior. 

"We have created something really special here," said Weishaar who replaced long-time coach Mike Goll in the offseason. "Knowing that we still have two more years with five of them and three more years with the rest, it just shows how good we are and how good we're going to be in the future." 

Claire and Mallory Renfro will take a 21-13 record into the state tournament, while Addison Renfro and Nutter are 23-12. Montoya is 27-6 and Rupe is 23-10.

The Mustangs are in search of their first state team championship  since 2004. 

"If we can get on the right side of the bracket and play the way we know we can play, I think we've got a really good shot," Weishaar said. 

Salina South to send singles player and doubles team to state

Salina South will have two entries at the 5A tournament. 

Iliana Armbrust and Tess Daily will represent the Cougars after winning the regional doubles title at Newton. They take a 24-3 record to state.

South will also have Emma Shulda competing in singles. She finished fifth at regionals and will enter state with a 12-13 record. 

Sacred Heart's Matteucci and Weiss eye state championship 

After finishing second in 3-2-1A in 2020, Sacred Heart's Isabella Matteucci and Katie Weiss are setting their eyes on a state doubles championship this weekend at Maize South.

Even if they don't defend their team championship — they tied Kansas City Christian for the title — Matteucci and Weiss still have plenty to play for after placing second in doubles last year. 

Matteucci and Weiss enter Friday's play at Maize South with a 29-4 record. 

Sacred Heart's Katie Weiss and Isabella Matteucci won the Class 3-2-1A regional at Hillsboro on Saturday.

More:Sacred Heart doubles team Isabella Matteucci and Katie Weiss sticking to the same plan

Dylan Sherwood has been a sports reporter for the Salina Journal since August 2019. He can be reached at or on Twitter @DSherwoodSJ