The Manhattan High girls’ tennis team sent both its underclassmen singles players to state last year.
With four girls who all would like to play singles this year, but only two spots to give, Joyce Allen opted to see how her two state qualifiers would fare together as a doubles pair on Thursday.
The results were encouraging.
Manhattan took second at the quadrangular meet in Junction City, coming just one win shy of tying Lawrence Free State to win.
In addition to Kristin Fraley and Cathy Lei’s 3-0 record playing at No. 1 doubles, No. 2 singles player Caroline Sager stayed undefeated on the year with three wins of her own after winning twice on Tuesday at Topeka High. Throw in a 2-1 day from No. 1 singles player Bianca Pedrozo and a 1-2 performance from the No. 2 doubles pair of Tracy Le and Pajsoua Lo, and it was a good day for the Indians.
“Everybody was so pleased and happy,” Manhattan coach Joyce Allen said. “It’s fun to win.”
Free State won 10 matches on the day to win the meet, with Manhattan winning nine. Salina South took third with four wins and Junction City came in fourth with a single win.
Pedrozo’s only loss at No. 1 singles came to Free State’s Alexis Czapinski, who beat her 8-2. Those were the only two games she lost all day, however, after taking fifth place at the Class 6A state tennis meet.
“I thought Bianca played really well,” Allen said. “This Alexis Czapinski — she just ran through everybody. She’ll end up a top four at state, so it’s kind of nice to see that competition.”
At No. 2, Sager went 3-0 on the day, but had to work for it. Her first match against Lawrence Free State went to a tiebreaker, with Sager coming out on top 8-7 (7-0). Sager had an easier time in her second match against Salina South, winning 8-1, before finishing the day with an 8-6 win over Junction City.
“It was a long, tiebreak match,” Allen said. “Then to come back in her last match against Junction 8-6, she was exhausted, but she wasn’t going to give up — she wanted that match. I’m so pleased with Caroline and what she’s done in these two meets.”
In doubles, Fraley and Lei showed how capable they can be as a doubles pair after playing singles all of last year. They beat the top pair from Free State 8-3, before mowing down South 8-1 and Junction City 8-0.
“I think the doubles surprised themselves,” Allen said. “Cathy and Kristin played OK in Topeka (on Tuesday), but today it was lights out. Even the other coaches said nobody could touch them today. They just looked golden.”
Part of their advantage as a pair is they are both left handed, which takes some adjustment for players expecting to hit into someone’s backhand and instead receive a forehand return.
“The first four games, all the teams didn’t know what happened to them,” Allen said. “It takes an adjustment.”
At No. 2 doubles, the pairing of Le and Lo is still adjusting, but managed to improve with every match. They lost 8-5 against Free State, 8-4 against South before beating Junction City 8-3 to finish out their day.
“They were really happy with how they played,” Allen said. “They got better in each match and by the end they were proud. I was really excited for them.”
Manhattan has just one match next week…
“We only have one match next week, because we canceled the Topeka West tournament,” Allen said. “We had to cut two. Maybe we can get some things done next week — work on some things.”