Danielle Murphy | yearbook staff
Although the WHS tennis season ended in regionals last week, coach Brendan Praeger said there was still a lot to celebrate this year.
“Outside of one senior who had played for four years, we had a very inexperienced team this year, with three freshmen and three players who had played very little varsity. They made tremendous strides throughout the season and were all competitive at the end of the season,” Praeger said.
Senior Mayah Mumpower entered the tournament as the #7 seed, which was good in such a strong regional according to Praeger.
She played well in her opening match against Beyer of Sabetha, winning 6-1, 6-1, putting her in competition for a spot at state.
Her second match was against the eventual regional runner-up Shea Kramer from Marysville, who had beaten her 7-0 a few weeks ago. “She played a really great match but missed a few opportunities and it got away from her,” Praeger said. Mumpower lost 6-1, 6-3.
Mumpower returned the next day to play for a spot in the state tournament. Unfortunately, she lost to Smoky Valley’s Logan Spencer 6-2, 6-1. “The match she played to go to state was also tough, and it was closer than the score shows, she just didn’t execute early and the opponent put her in a position to make mistakes. I’m happy that she played pretty well all weekend, she just got beaten by girls who played a little better.”
Mumpower ended the season with a 19-10 record, ending an excellent Charger tennis career in which she played varsity from her sophomore year on.
Sophomore Baylie Tharman was the other Chargers singles entry. “Baylie really stepped up at regionals. She had played doubles most of the year, but switched back to singles at the end,” Praeger said.
Tharman dominated her first match against Taryn Bell from Rossville, winnin 9-2 in the play-in match to join the 16-player bracket. “She really showed how she can play with confidence and aggression,” Praeger said.
Her second match was against the #4 seed senior Favero from Maranatha, a girl who placed at state this season. She dropped the match 6-0, 6-0. “I think she played her best match of the season and really showed her athleticism, but her inexperience showed by the end. She has done a great job eliminating her weaknesses throughout the season, so she’s headed in the right direction,” Praeger said.
In doubles, both Charger entries lost in play-in matches early in the day.
Sarha Vanstory and Damielle Murphy lost 9-2 to Wertenberger/Arnold from Sabetha. “Sarah and Danielle played pretty well in their match, but lost to a team that was a win away from state. They put them in bad positions and were able to put the match away. I think they made a lot of progress this season. If you look at the last half of the year, they were consistently competitive after a rough start,” Praeger said.
Meredith Denton and Ava Huske lost 9-1 to Knight/Mertz form Maranatha Christian Academy. “They had a tough matchup against two seniors from Maranatha, and they weren’t ever able to get comfortable and play their best. Some of that was probably nerves, but that’s to be expected from freshmen playing in their first postseason. They are in a great position to compete for the next few years, so there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic as we look to the future,” Praeger said.
The team will return five player next season, all who got varsity experience this year. “It was definitely a rebuilding year in some ways,” Praeger said. “I’m happy that we were able to be competitive with so many new faces and I think we’re on course for some really great teams in the next few years.”