MHS tennis takes 5th at league meet

By Grant Guggisberg

All along, the Manhattan High girls’ tennis team was hoping to finish in the upper half of the standings at the Centennial League tennis meet Monday.

With a fifth-place finish at the 10-team tournament, they met their goal.

Washburn Rural was the league champion with 88 points, with Emporia behind them with 75. Hayden finished third with 61 points, with Shawnee Heights in fourth with 58 and Manhattan taking fifth with 55.

“I’m really pretty happy with how we did,” Manhattan coach Joyce Allen said. “All I asked these girls to do was to do better than we did last year. And that’s what they did.”

Last year, Manhattan took sixth place at the meet, so Monday’s results were progress.

There was no designation between No. 1 and No. 2 players at the meet, so singles players Bianca Pedrozo and Caroline Sager were each seeded out of one large pool.

Pedrozo came in seeded ninth, and finished in ninth place after a 2-2 record in pool play and a 1-1 mark in bracket play. She won against Sager in the opening round of bracket play.

Sager, on the other hand, came in unseeded and was drawn into the bracket in what would have been the 20th seed. She also went 2-2 in pool play, and after losing to Pedrozo in her opening match of bracket play, went on to win her second match and finish in 11th place.

“She beat her seed by quite a bit,” Allen said of Sager. “Caroline had another typically good day.”

The doubles pair of Cathy Lei and Kristen Fraley came in as the highest-seeded Indians at the meet as the three-seed, and backed it up, going 4-0 in pool play to earn a spot in the four-team championship bracket.

They faced Topeka High’s Katie Hurocy and Kim Buzbee and won 8-7 (7-1) to advance into the final. Washburn Rural’s two doubles pairs played each other in the other semifinal, with Rural’s typical No. 2 pair defeating its No. 1 pair. Fraley and Lei lost in the final to Rural’s Darby Hirsch and Mikaela Steinagel, 8-5, to take second place on the day and better their already-high seed.

The win over Buzbee and Hurocy was also important for upcoming regional seedings, giving the pair an edge in what should be a competitive regional.

“We were really excited — we were thrilled,” Allen said. “Cathy and Kristen played really well, I was so proud of them and they were pleased.”

The other doubles pair of Tracy Le and Pajsoua Lo was drawn into the bracket as the No. 18 seed and was seeded to go 0-4 in pool play, but instead went 1-3. They went on to lose both bracket matches to finish the day in 16th place, also bettering their seed.

Allen said the team hopes to use its success on Monday to springboard into good things at this weekend’s Topeka Regional, with the state meet coming the week after.

“We hope so,” Allen said. “There are four of us in league at our regional. So it has given us a good look at each other. You really just have to get the right seeds. Especially in our doubles, we hope we’re a top-four seed, but who knows. That’s where the win against Topeka High becomes huge.”

All four of the Centennial League’s Class 6A members are in the Topeka regional (Manhattan, Junction City, Washburn Rural and Topeka High). Joining them will be Derby, Wichita East, Wichita North and Wichita Southeast. The meet will take place on Saturday at the Kossover Tennis Complex.

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