LINDSBORG — McPherson High girls tennis coach Tyler Brown turned Saturday’s Smoky Valley Invitational into a lab experiment and may have found the perfect formula in the process.
Brown took singles players Ellea Ediger and Rachel Ivers and put them together as a doubles team. The result was a first-place finish with a 4-0 record and a victory in the finals that surely shook the state to its foundation.
“Ellea and Rachel, who have not really played together much but had been playing a lot of singles this year and doing really well, I combined to basically see if they could compete with the 4A state champs of Buhler. Even though they started out slow falling behind 0-3 they were able to overcome some nerves and start to play really well to outlast Buhler's (Jessica) Steffen and (Kendra) Nachtigal, 8-6.”
The ever-improving team of Cassidy Corrigan and Maisie Edmonson went 3-1 for third place.
“With this lineup we found out that these two doubles teams can compete with the best in the state,” Brown said. “Their only loss of the day was to our own Ellea Ediger and Rachel Ivers in the semifinals. They also were able to avenge a loss to Smoky Valley's (Emily) Roets and (Katie) Bellah from the beginning of the year 8-5 and also earned a big win over Sterling’s Wilson/Gilmore 8-5. Corrigan and Edmonson not only returned from new sides of the court this tournament, they battled and overcame a deficit of 1-4 to Sterling as well for that third-place matchup. It just shows how coachable our girls are and that you can ask them to switch sides and respond in a positive outcome. To beat a Smoky Valley team that is one of the best in 4A the second time around and after losing 3-8 shows the growth and willingness to try new things to make themselves a better team. I was extremely proud of these two.”
Despite the doubles prowess, the Bullpups finished second as a team with 60 points. Sterling was a surprising first with 66.
Buhler outlasted Smoky Valley 48-44 for third, with Wichita Independent scoring 40. There were 10 schools in all.
In singles, Shelby Gudenkauf was seventh with a 2-2 record and Heidi Myers was 11th, also 2-2.
“Shelby continued to play tough singles for a second tournament in a row,” Brown said. “I get the feeling she really enjoys competing and battling out there. She was able to get seventh and finish in the upper half of the field. Heidi was thrown into a new role this tournament due to putting Ediger and Ivers together in doubles. Heidi responded well. Even though she started out not like the Heidi I typically see in her first match, she regrouped like a champion, collecting her emotions and being able to battle and compete the rest of the day and even ending her day with a win and finishing in the Top 12 to contribute valuable points to the team as well.”
MHS goes to Wichita Collegiate on Saturday.