In high school tennis in Kansas, there isn’t typically much shame in losing to the elite players in the Kansas City metro area.
With that in mind, Kristen Fraley and Cathy Lei’s eighth-place finish Sunday in the doubles bracket of the Class 6A state tennis tournament was a solid way to end the year.
“Being in the top eight, to me was incredible,” Manhattan coach Joyce Allen said. “And we were behind seven Kansas City schools. I was just so happy, and the girls were, too.”
After posting a 2-1 record on Saturday to make it to Sunday, Fraley and Lei started the final day off with a 9-1 win over Derby’s Bailey Farris and Kourtney Richardson to guarantee no worse than an eighth-place finish.
“They played such a good match that morning against Derby,” Allen said. “(Derby) barely won any points and we handed them the one game they won.”
From there, Manhattan lost its next match 9-3 against Blue Valley West’s Brylin Staats and Ariel Mittleman, which went on to take sixth place.
In the seventh-place match, Fraley and Lei played a tough match against Blue Valley North’s Joanna Blackford and Emma Fields, but lost 9-5 to round out their day and finish in eighth place.
“What we have to learn is how to win the big games,” Allen said. “We were up 40-love two or three times in the last two matches, and we lost them. We need to get over that hump.”
On Saturday, Fraley and Lei lost their opener to Blue Valley Northwest’s Kylee White and Lindsay Haight 6-2, 6-0, before rattling off two straight wins to guarantee at least 12th place and a medal.
The pair beat Wichita South’s Taylor VanCleave and Nakayla Andrewjeski, 9-0, before beating Shawnee Mission Northwest’s Lexy Drummon and Colleen Freeman, 9-6.
All in all, Manhattan’s three losses all came against tough teams. Losing the coin flip to become the ‘D’ region instead of the ‘C’ region had its biggest effect on the team’s first match of the weekend, playing against White and Haight. The team went on to take third place overall, despite a fourth-place finish in their regional.
“There’s no shame in losing to them, but we were so nervous,” Allen said. “To have that as your first-round match is pretty tough. Not playing them right off the bat might have given us more of a mental edge. That’s where it would have made the difference.”
Had they earned the higher seed, the pair likely would have had an easier time in their first-round match, but would have then faced a juggernaut in Shawnee Mission East’s Stephanie Wilcox and Aidan Epstein, who finished in second place. A loss against that team would have relegated Manhattan right back into the back side of the bracket playing for the same medals.
Regardless of seeding, Allen was pleased with the way the weekend turned out. The team finished in 12th place despite having just one doubles pair in the bracket.
“I’m so proud of them,” Allen said. “They’re such nice girls and they’ve really had such a great season.”
Wamego’s Page sisters take 2nd in 4A
Lanie and Kaylee Page finished their tennis season at 29-1 with a second-place finish at the Class 4A state tennis tournament over the weekend.
The pair lost in a rematch from the regional final to McPherson’s Emily Ediger and Camry Holle a week after beating them to earn the top seed.
This time, McPherson outlasted the Pages, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (7-0) in the second three-set match between the two teams in the span of a week. At regionals, Lanie and Kaylee won a three-set match with a tiebreaker, 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5) to earn the top seed.
The Pages won their semifinal match in straight sets against Hayden’s Michelle Voegeli Megan Muller.