WINFIELD — McPherson High’s Ellea Ediger and Rachel Ivers are potentially the top returning doubles team in Class 4A next year after coming up one match short of winning the state championship on Saturday.
The junior duo, who had played only a handful of matches together entering the state meet, lost a 6-1, 6-4 verdict to Wichita Collegiate seniors Hannah Osland and Allie Lindwall for the championship. The Bullpups actually had a chance to push it to three sets as they led the second 4-3, but Collegiate won the final three games.
In the semis, Ediger and Ivers steamrolled the all-senior team of Jenna Groene and Mallory Meier of Winfield, 6-2, 6-1.
Perhaps the suddenness of the victory actually was detrimental as they had to sit for a long time and wait out an epic semifinal as Osland and Lindwall went up against Buhler’s defending 4A champions Jessica Steffen and Kendra Nachtigal of Buhler. It went the limit, with the Collegiate team winning 7-5 in the third set after they had split the first two.
That obviously took a lot out of Steffen and Nachtigal, as they were defeated in a three-setter for third place.
Ediger and Ivers finished the year 15-1 as both had spent the much of the season playing singles or with different partners.
"Ediger and Ivers have a tremendous future in doubles if we decide to keep those two together considering that anyone that gave them any kind of push this year will have graduated by the time next season rolls around," MHS coach Tyler Brown said. "But as always tennis has so many variables from now until then, we never know what our lineup will be until usually the week of that tournament. I feel with that kind of mental toughness of not knowing if you will play singles or doubles it just makes our girls that much better than other teams."
Prohibitive favorite Wichita Collegiate ran away with the title with 50 points, while Andover Central was second with 24. MHS was in a four-way tie for third with 18, but after everything was sorted out, Topeka Hayden was deemed to receive the third-place plaque. Independence and Winfield were the other teams that tied for third.
"Our team goal almost every year is to finish in the Top 3 and we couldn't of been any closer to meeting that goal," said Brown, whose team had been second and first in the last two years. "An extra game here or extra match there and we meet this goal. As close as the race was for even second place, this goal could of been met. But whether our girls finished Top 3 or not, that is not how I define our success as a team. I base that off of how we grew as a team as early as when the season ended last year up until the season ending now."
In a bit of a surprise, defending singles champion Sayaka Smith of Coffeyville was defeated in the finals 6-2, 6-1 by Topeka Hayden freshman phenom Brooklyn Hunter. Smith had been undefeated last year as well as this year until the loss.
In addition to Ediger and Ivers being back next year, MHS also returns sophomore state doubles qualifier Maisie Edmonson, who played with senior Cassidy Corrigan.
Shelby Gudenkauf is the other senior graduating.