LADY MUSTANGS FALL TO FIFTH IN SALINA CENTRAL INVITATIONAL
No Salina South individual entry finished higher than third during the Salina Central Invitational girls tennis meet on Saturday, yet every one of the Cougars went home with a secondplace medal.
Led by third-place finishes in the singles bracket from Robyn Logan and in doubles from Iliana Armbrust and Alexxa Nunemaker, the Cougars totaled 107 team points. That was good for second place behind McPherson (113 points) and to edge Topeka Seaman (101) for third.
“We all pulled together today,” Logan said. “This one felt more like a team meet. “Even though tennis is an individual sport, we all want to do well as a team in the big meets.” South coach Ryan Stuart credited the Cougars’ depth. “We are a deep, balanced team and we proved that again today,” he said. “We always tell the kids to try to play to their seed and most of them played to that today. “And we are still playing without one of our best players in Jillian Coleman, who we hope to get back in a couple of weeks from a knee injury.”
Central was also without one of its top singles players, with senior Emery Newton (13-1) missing the meet to take the ACT test. The Mustangs had 87 teams points and placed fifth among the 14 schools in the meet. “We stumbled in a few matches early in the tournament but regrouped and finished the day strong in a number of areas,” Central coach Mike Goll said.
Logan’s lone loss in the tournament came in the semifinals, where she went to a tiebreaker with Megan Ward of St. James Academy before falling 8-7 (5). The South senior closed with a one-sided 8-0 victory over Seaman’s Elise Schreiner in the thirdplace match. “I was most pleased that I was able to stay calm on the court today and if I was down, I tried to get back up,” Logan said.
“I feel like I played pretty consistent and trying to keep shots in with all the wind was hard to do.” Armbrust and Nunemaker were the No. 3 seeds in the doubles bracket and lost a total of three games in their first three matches. Their only loss came against No. 2 seeds Jacey Arnett and Eleana Messenger of Arkansas City in the semifinals, 8-5. The South duo also came back with a win in the tournament’s thirdplace match, defeating Molly Book and Madison Biondo of St. James Academy, 8-4.
“I think we played really well and worked together well,” Armbrust said. “We were calling our shots and making sure where the other person was behind us. We played some really good competition and were able to pull through.” Nunemaker concurred. “Our movement was better and we really tried hard not to stand still,” Nunemaker said. “We tried some new things with lobs, where we placed the ball and coming up to the net to isolate that.”
Stuart was pleased with his team’s resilience. “What I liked the most was how our kids came back and played in the third-place matches,” he said. “No one wants to lose in the semifinals, so to come back and win their final match like they did was nice.” South also had a seventh-place finish in singles from Laura Brucker, with its doubles team of Tess Daily and Katen Putman taking 11th.
Central’s top finish came in the doubles division, where Camryn Phelps and Reagan Geihsler went 3-2 and took seventh. Teammates Sydney Sorell and Molly Michaelis went 4-1 in doubles, won their last three matches and placed ninth.
Callie Sanborn had a tough draw in the singles division, with the Mustang junior losing to eventual runner-up Ward in the second round. Sanborn won her final three matches to take ninth, with sophomore Ella Payne placing 15th in the singles division.
“Every entry won their last match of the day,” Goll said. “In a tournament this size, to be able to finish the day with wins says a lot about being able to answer challenges.”
South’s Elizabeth Franco and Katalina Rivera placed 10th in doubles and Central’s Emme Turpin and Mackenzie Nutter were 12th, with both teams competing unattached and did not figure into their respective schools’ team scores.
The tournament’s top seeds in both divisions were able to claim titles Saturday, with McPherson’s CeAnna Allen and Taylor Bruce topping the doubles field and Keegan VanPelt of Lawrence Free State winning singles. Allen and Bruce won a tiebreaker in their semifinal with Book-Biondo, then defeated Ark City’s Arnett and Messenger in the title match, 8-6. McPherson also had a fifth-place finish from Rachel Carlson in singles.