McPherson High’s girls tennis team is locked and fully loaded as it attempts to hunt down its second straight Class 4A state championship.
All six Bullpups once again qualified for state as they go to Winfield on Friday to begin defense of their title and set their sights on raising banner No. 53 in the Roundhouse.
MHS dominated the two-day regional that did not finish until Sunday afternoon at the MHS Tennis Complex because of Friday’s rainout. It more than tripled the rest of the field in taking the championship plaque, with Buhler emerging from a three-way tie on points to get the second plaque.
MHS coach Tyler Brown, whose team scored 23 points compared to 7 each for Buhler, Smoky Valley and Chapman, said it was mission accomplished. The Bullpups went 1-2 in singles (Ellea Ediger and Katlyn Reifschneider), while the doubles teams of Camry Holle-Emily Ediger and Rachel Ivers-Madison Hoffman finished second and third, respectively.
“We love the fact we’re deep and everybody is pointing for us,” Brown said. “We’re hoping for the same results when we go to state.”
Ellea Ediger won her first three matches by 6-0, 6-0 scores before defeating Reifschneider in the finals, 6-3, 6-0. Reifschneider had been out for 10 days with a shoulder injury, but gutted through it.
Ediger takes a 25-3 record to state, while Reifschneider is a deceiving 8-8, as she was sixth at state last year. Most of her losses have been to expected state contenders.
Brown added that he’s hoping that Ediger, who was second in the state last year, can earn one of the top two seeds at Winfield.
There was a mild surprise in the doubles final as Holle and Emily Ediger, the No. 1 seed, lost a 7-6, 6-3 verdict to old rivals Jessica Steffen and Kendra Nachtigal of Buhler, the 2 seed. The teams have met in the past, but on this day Steffen and Nachtigal were on top of their game. They led the first set 5-2 before Holle and Ediger got it back and forced a tiebreaker, but Steffen and Nachtigal won that 7-4. The second set belonged to the Crusaders to hand the Bullpups the defeat.
Steffen and Nachtigal could be the No. 1 seed at Winfield as they are 28-3. Holle and Ediger, the defending state champions, are 27-9 and Brown said Sunday’s finish could provide impetus next week as they know defending their state championship won’t be easy.
“I think we (Holle and Ediger) split with them (Steffen and Nachtigal) a couple of times last year and we happened to get Buhler at state,” Brown said. “We might see them again and hopefully we’ll get them at state, too, and beat them when it counts.”
The surprise of the day came from the Bullpups’ No. 2 team of Ivers and Hoffman as they took third after being seeded No. 4. They pushed Holle and Ediger to three sets in the semifinals before losing 6-1 in the third, then won their final three games against Chapman’s Brittany Duer and Jessie Heiman, who suffered only their third loss of the year against 30 wins.
Ivers and Hoffman, a team put together late in the season, are now 9-2. Brown is hoping they can go deep into the state tournament as their points could be crucial if the Bullpups are to repeat.
“They pushed our 1s to the limit,” Brown said, noting they played with a lot of tenacity.
Brown said there’s a chance the MHS doubles teams could wind up facing each other at state in the quarterfinals if both get that far.
It was a good day for McPherson County school Smoky Valley, as the Vikings qualified Emily Roets in singles, as well as the doubles team of Hannah Morrical and Katie Bellah.
• STATE QUALIFIERS •
• Singles •
1. Ellea Ediger, McPherson, 25-3
2. Katlyn Reifschneider, McPherson, 8-8
3. Hannah Callan, Clay Center, 21-8
4. Emily Roets, Smoky Valley, 19-17
5. Makenzie Nisley, Nickerson, 22-9
6. Brooke Forinash, Hays, 23-12
• DOUBLES •
1. Jessica Steffen-Kendra Nachtigal, Buhler, 28-3
2. Camry Holle-Emily Ediger, McPherson, 27-9
3. Rachel Ivers-Madison Hoffman, McPherson, 9-2
4. Brittany Duer-Jessie Heiman, Chapman, 30-3
5. Hannah Morrical-Katie Bellah, Smoky Valley, 24-9
6. Katy Fink-Brianna Loy, Chapman, 26-8