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Tennis Tackles State

Long+leaps+up+in+the+air+to+hit+the+ball.+The+doubles+team+of+Long+and+Petros+had+the+most+individual+success+at+state%2C+placing+6th.+
Long leaps up in the air to hit the ball. The doubles team of Long and Petros had the most individual success at state, placing 6th.

Long leaps up in the air to hit the ball. The doubles team of Long and Petros had the most individual success at state, placing 6th.

Kara Fort

Kara Fort

Long leaps up in the air to hit the ball. The doubles team of Long and Petros had the most individual success at state, placing 6th.

Jonathan Zappa, Sports Editor

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The Lady Lions tennis team knew their own talent going into the State meet, but they wanted to prove to everyone else that they belonged with the other top 5A teams in the state of Kansas.

“As the season progressed other coaches kept telling me how good we were compared to the schools they’ve been playing.  It wasn’t until the next to last weekend of the season that we had a chance to play two of the top five schools in State and really see firsthand how we matched up.  I came away from that tournament with a good feeling about our chances at State,” coach Edward Fenton said.

They did a good job of that, sharing fourth place overall with a team total of 18 points.

“Our regular season couldn’t have been better. We won all the duals, triangulars, and tournaments we participated in, including regionals,” coach Fenton explained. “The team continued to take what we discussed and worked on at each practice and tried to put it into play during the matches.”

After some unfortunate luck with seeding, the Lions lost their first two singles matches. On the backside of the bracket, the Lions turned it around with victories from senior Katie Rathjen and junior Colby Mortenson, with wins of 9-2 and 9-4. Mortenson sadly lost her next match to end her tournament, but Rathjen continued on to win, with a 9-4 victory in her next match, which provided Lansing with hope. Rathjen lost the match immediately after, and she fell into the ninth place match, which she went on to win, 9-7.

Senior Katie Rathjen concentrates carefully as she prepares to serve the ball. Rathjen is one of three seniors leaving the varsity team this year.

Kara Fort
Senior Katie Rathjen concentrates carefully as she prepares to serve the ball. Rathjen is one of three seniors leaving the varsity team this year.

The doubles team of junior Rachel Long and senior Mandi Petros found a bit more success, winning their first match (6-7, 7-2, 6-2, 10-8), but couldn’t quite make it to the quarterfinals because of a loss following the first match. After that, however, they managed to piece together two consecutive victories with scores of 9-4 and 9-5 to battle their way into the fifth place match. After a hard fought battle, they had to settle for sixth.

“It was very satisfying knowing that my hard work in the off season payed off,” Long exclaimed. “We really played well this season, but I know we still have drive in us to do better next season.”

The other doubles team that traveled to State, consisting of juniors Sierra Brown and Marissa Petros, had their tournament cut short due to losses in their first two consecutive matches.

“We left Valley Center feeling good about our accomplishments over the State weekend.  The girls played some of their best tennis matches on the biggest weekend we have had.  The sixth place doubles team of Mandi Petros and Rachel Long was our highest place at State in the last five years.  Katie Rathjen finished ninth in singles and had one of her biggest victories in her career on her last match in high school.” Fenton said.

Rathjen serves the ball , preparing to launch it towards the other side of the court. Rathjen placed 9th overall in the singles bracket at the state tournament.

Kara Fort
Rathjen serves the ball, preparing to launch it towards the other side of the court. Rathjen placed ninth overall in the singles bracket at the State tournament.

With such a young team, the Lions will look to continue reflecting off of the positives and move onto next year, hoping to make a return trip to State.

“Looking back, I’m really pleased with our regional title and qualifying all six players for State. We’re going to be losing our top three players, but we’ve got junior varsity girls who are wanting to get back on court and compete to be on varsity,” coach Fenton concluded.

 

 

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Tennis Tackles State