For the second week in a row, the Manhattan girls’ tennis team played tournaments on back-to-back days, competing in Emporia on Monday and in the Kansas City Invitational at the Plaza Tennis Center on Tuesday.
“Playing seven or eight matches in the span of 24 hours is a little much, but I thought the girls handled it well,” MHS head coach Tony Ingram said.
On a hot and windy day in Emporia, the Indians finished first as a team, led by junior Jill Harkin’s first-place singles finish, beating Olathe Northwest twice and Derby in straight sets (8-0).
Senior Maura Wiens placed fifth in singles, going 3-1. Wiens beat Derby 8-2 before falling to St. James 3-8. She followed that up by beating a St. James player 8-4 before earning an 8-5 win over Olathe Northwest.
In doubles competition, Ava Bahr and Hannah Loub finished third overall, going 3-1 with an opening round victory over Derby 8-1. They then beat Newton 8-4 before falling to Olathe Northwest in the semifinals 8-4.
In the third-place match, the pair beat Emporia 8-3.
Erin Craft and Jessica Zhang took fifth overall, also going 3-1.
They beat Olathe Northwest 8-7(4) before falling to St. James 4-8. Craft and Zhang finished things out win wins over Olathe Northwest (8-3) and Newton (8-1).
“Erin and Jessica have really solidified themselves in that No. 2 doubles spot,” Ingram said. “These last two days have helped me see that. They’ve gotten a lot of confidence from their performance.”
On Tuesday, Manhattan made the two-hour trek east to Kansas City, where it faced a murderer’s row of competition consisting of KC metro schools from both sides of the state line.
“It was a great opportunity for us,” Ingram said. “It’s a great facility, and the teams that were there from Kansas and Missouri. The competition was probably better than what we’ll see at (the Class) 6A state (tournament). It was loud and busy because all of the traffic of Kansas City was going on around them, but our focus was good.”
Harkin once again led the way, taking second overall, beating Homberg from St. Thomas Aquinas and Smith from Blue Valley North 8-0 before a win over Chiasson from Blue Valley Northwest set up a match-up with Biria from The Barstow School (Mo.).
Harkin won the opening set 6-3 before falling 1-6 in the second, setting up a tiebreaker. Harkin fell 10-5 in the final set, which Ingram partially attributed to fatigue after playing seven matches over two days.
“Jill’s just a flat competitor when she steps between the lines,” Ingram said. “I’ll take a little responsibility for her loss, expecting a young lady to compete at that level for seven matches across 24 hours. I apologized to her, because she started out playing so well, but then in that second set, she started to play a little choppy as the inconsistency set in. So I think the fatigue factor probably played a part.”
Wiens went 2-2 in B-Singles, beating Murphy from Notre Dame De Sion (Mo.) 8-0 before falling to Goli from Blue Valley West (8-5) and Jarrell from Blue Valley (8-3) before getting a win over Fulcher from Pembroke Hill (Mo.) (8-3).
Wiens led Goli 4-1 before some inconsistency set in, leading to the loss.
“It was really nice to see (Wiens) rebound and make the changes she needed to make to get back on track,” Ingram said.
In A-Doubles, Bahr and Loub went 0-3, falling to Barsow 8-1, Blue Valley Northwest 8-2 and St. Thomas Aquinas 8-6.
Craft and Zhang were the only other medalists Tuesday for Manhattan, finishing ninth in B-Doubles.
The pair started off with a rough 8-2 loss to Blue Valley but rebounded to beat Lawrence Free State 8-2, Blue Valley Northwest 8-7(3) and St. Thomas Aquinas 8-2.
“They are really playing well as a doubles team, and they’re really playing with some consistency,” Ingram said.
“They played eight matches in 24 hours and there they were at the end, still going strong.”
Tuesday’s tournament was the final of the regular season for MHS.
The Indians now will prep for postseason play, starting with the Centennial League meet Oct. 4 at Washburn Rural before heading back to Topeka later that week for regionals, which will be hosted by Topeka High.