Tony Ingram walked onto the court before his No. 1 doubles tandem of seniors Joanna Park and Kira Schartz played the top team from Seaman High in the championship match of a Centennial League tournament at Topeka High on Monday. Manhattan won the tournament, and this was the marquee matchup.
There was a lot on the line heading into the match. Not just the opportunity to defeat a tough doubles team, or having fought through multiple comebacks to get there, but there was a chance Schartz wouldn’t play at all this season after she tore her ACL in the spring.
“I went out there and talked to them,” the head coach, Ingram, said. “I asked the, ‘Who would’ve thought six weeks ago you guys would be in the championship match against, right now, the top team in the league? Enjoy the heck out of it.’”
Park and Schartz (5-0) broke out to a 4-1 lead against Seaman and never looked back, winning the championship.
Freshman Jillian Harkin and junior Kayla Lei played each other in the single championship again, too. Harkin won the match and advanced to a remarkable 28-0 on the season. Lei is 21-3, with all three of her losses coming to Harkin.
“We aren’t going to look too far ahead,” Ingram said. “Right now for regionals, she and Kayla are set up pretty well to finish possibly one and two. For the singles, I think they will be able to compete well at regionals.”
The No. 2 doubles team of freshman Maura Wiens and senior Kate McGee went 3-2, earning sixth. Ingram was pleased with their progress and increasing their knowledge of the game.
This will be a tournament he’ll remember forever, Ingram said.
“There were tears after Kira and Joanna won,” Ingram said. “In all of my coaching years in all sports, that was a top-two experience in my 20-plus years of coaching.”
The team’s next action is at the regional tournament at Wichita East on Saturday.
1st, Manhattan, 83 pts
2nd, Washburn Rural, 72
3rd, Hayden, 65
4th, Seaman, 63
5th, Emporia, 47
6th, Topeka High, 38
7th, Topeka West, 28
8th, Junction City, 19
9th, Highland Park, 9
Singles Champion – Jillian Harkin – (5-0) – 28-0 on the season
Singles 2nd place – Kayla Lei – (4-1) – 21-3 on the season
Doubles Champions – Joanna Park / Kira Schartz – (5-0)
Doubles 6th place – Kate McGee / Maura Wiens – (3-2)