STACK-HOLGERSON LEAD MUSTANGS TO 2ND
Salina Central’s Maddie Stack and Grace Holgerson were not about to let one loss spoil their day. Especially when it came in finals of a loaded Salina Central Invitational draw against the defending Class 5A state champions.
Stack and Holgerson, both juniors, went toe to- toe for six games with Arkansas City’s Kelsie Burr and Chassidy Weathers before the champions got a key service break and rolled the rest of the way to an 8-3 victory at the Central tennis courts.
“They’re fun to play because they give us great experience and great competition,” Stack said of Burr and Weathers. “We played them last week too, and lost 6-8. “We’re very happy with the way we played.”
Stack and Holgerson also led Central to a second place team finish. St. James Academy, the top-ranked team in Class 5A, won with 117 points, followed by the Mustangs with 102 and Maize with 93.
St. James dominated the singles draw with Catherine Rieke taking first and Gabbi Taylor third.
Central held serve three times to start the doubles final, but at 3-3, Burr’s overhead at 15-40 gave Ark City the break it needed. The Bulldogs did not drop a game the rest of the way, breaking the Mustangs two more times. “We got off to a slow start,” said Burr, a junior, who teamed with Weathers for second at state in 2015 before winning last year. “Then (with the service break) something clicked and we were ready to go from there.” Weathers, a senior, agreed. “It changed our attitude a lot,” she said. Burr especially took charge at the net, forcing Stack and Holgerson back on their heels. “We want to move in,” Weathers said. “We don’t like long rallies on the baseline.”
Stack and Holgerson, who were seeded third, came from behind to beat No. 2 Rachel Binau and Jessica Sharp in a semifinal tiebreaker, 8-7 (7-4). “It was very stressful, but it was so much fun,” Holgerson said. “We wouldn’t have it any other way.”
All four of the Central Maroon team’s four entries finished in the top 10 out of 32 in the singles and doubles bracket. Senior Karley Benson finished eighth in singles, while seniors Emalie Hassler and Peyton Kavanagh took eighth in doubles.
For Salina South, junior Sydney McAdoo dropped just one singles match, in the quarterfinals, and went on to place ninth. The Cougars scored 68 points to finish sixth, with Central’s White team tied for ninth at 68.
In singles, St. James’ Rieke won the championship with an 8-3 victory over Goddard’s Sydney LeFevre. She beat teammate Taylor, the No. 5 seed, 8-5 in the semis. “I’m really happy,” said Rieke, the 5A state singles runner-up last year as a junior. “It was really hard playing Gabbi because you never want to play your teammate. “This is a good tournament to get experience because we’ll see a lot of these girls later this year and at state.”
Second-seeded LeFevre’s big victory was an 8-3 decision against No. 2 Rae Normai of Newton. Taylor also beat Normai in the third-place match, 8-6.
“It was a great day of tennis,” Central coach Mike Goll said. “We enjoyed having good weather and outstanding teams here today." “We had the No. 1-ranked team in the state and they were the only ones that finished ahead of us.” "It was a great day to be a Mustang."