Lauren a Schutter | sports editor
The tennis team travels to Hillsboro Friday to compete in this year’s regional competition.
The meet takes place Friday and Saturday, with the majority of the small team competing. Senior Mayah Mumpower and sophomore Baylie Tharman will compete in singles, while freshmen Meredith Denton and Ava Huske will join senior Sarah Vanstory and junior Danielle Murphy in doubles.
Mayah Mumpower is feeling ready after a successful regular season, sporting an 18-8 record in singles. “I think I’m at a good place going into regionals,” Mumpower said, “The tennis meet at Lawrence was a good test since quite a few of the teams there are also in our regionals.” Head coach Brendan Praeger said “Mayah has improved so much over the course of the year in singles, and focused on so many different shots to make them better. She’s just a more complete player than she has been the last few years.”
Sophomore Baylie Tharman has switched between singles and doubles this year, but will compete in singles for regionals. “She has improved so much more this year than last year,” Praeger said. “Since she is a dual-sport athlete she doesn’t get as much practice time as the other players, but we’ve made it work well this season. Her serves and athleticism should help carry her. She has a shot at winning her first round match and being in the mix for a spot at state.”
Sarah Vanstory and Danielle Murphy have also improved a lot throughout the year, according to Praeger. “They are both upperclassmen with little varsity time coming into the year, so it’s not a surprise that they are playing much better as a pair than they were for the early meets,” Praeger said. They earned a silver medal in #2 doubles at the final varsity meet in Chapman, and went 3-1 at Perry-Lecompton to finish at the top of the consolation bracket in a competitive 16-team field. “They’ve improved their teamwork and knowledge and just need to eliminate unforced errors.”
Meredith Denton and Ava Huske have had extreme improvement this year, and are not playing like freshmen, according to Praeger. “They really stepped up after being thrown into varsity meets. Their record is also better if you look at the most recent meets. Ava played a lot of singles, but we have them back together for the postseason. They have fantastic serves and we’ll work on being really aggressive at the net to give them a good chance at upsetting someone in the bracket.”
The regional tournament is set up as a 16-team bracket with a few play-in games. In order to play at state, competitors need to place within the top 6. Players who lose the first match are done, so the pressure is on right away. “We play full matches, two out of three sets, and full deuce, which we have only done at one other meet. Our team plays a tough schedule and has several all-day meets, so we’ll be ready to go,” Praeger said.
Teams competing in this regional include Wabaunsee, Hesston, Hillsboro, Smoky Valley, Marysville, Perry-Lecompton, Kansas City Christian, Rossville, Sabetha, Sacred Heart, and Maranatha Christian Academy.
As far as the competition goes, the regional will house returning doubles state champions from Sacred Heart, as well as several state qualifiers from Smoky Valley, Maranatha, Hesston and Marysville, which makes this meet just that much more difficult. “This is arguably the most difficult regional in the state, almost every year,” coach Praeger said, “but our players have a good shot. If we catch some breaks with seeding and play up to our potential we can have a great meet.”
State will be held the following weekend in Maize.