The Firebirds, fresh off their third consecutive Sunflower League title, feature junior Emily Wang, favored to win singles at the seven-team regional.
The tournament is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Semifinals are scheduled for approximately 12:30 p.m. with finals set for approximately 2 p.m.
Wang enters regional with a flashy 25-1 record. FSHS senior Ann Liu (18-7) will be the Firebirds' other singles player. In doubles, seniors Susie Epp and Jenna Sheldon-Sherman (9-0) will form one doubles team. Juniors Lacey Luina and Emily Loewen (18-7) are Free State's other doubles team.
The top four placers in singles and doubles will advance to 6A state later this week in Wichita. If all goes well, Free State could qualify its entire team for state.
"That's any coach's hope," Firebird coach Jon Renberger said. "Wang undoubtedly has a strong chance. I think both of our doubles teams have a better than average chance if they're playing well. Ann Liu is going to have to pull an upset or two, but she's been playing extremely well lately. If fortune is smiling on us, we may have a chance."
Epp, who has split time playing singles and doubles this season, was Sunflower champion at No. 2 singles. Epp's switch to doubles for regional could help the Firebirds in the long run.
"I believe she would qualify in singles or doubles," Renberger said. "I think she and Jenna have a greater chance placing higher at regional and can do some damage at state. A lot of the decision had to do with our future goals and how it'd help the team. Susie's an unselfish player and she wants to do what will help the team. She's been physically and mentally prepared to go either way."
Host Lawrence High will send junior Abby Olson (14-4) and senior Maria Salcedo (6-6) in singles. In doubles, junior Becca Fritzel and junior Sarah Olson (6-4) will form one squad. The second LHS doubles team will be seniors Erin Morgan and Sarah Collins.
"How well we do will depend a lot on the draw," LHS coach Dick Wedel said. "All six of the girls have been playing better the last two or three weeks."
Golfers head to Lake Shawnee
Free State High and Lawrence High today will send their girls golf teams to Lake Shawnee Golf Course for a Class 6-5A regional.
The top two schools from the nine-team tournament will advance to next Monday's state tournament at Lake Shawnee Country Club. Also, the top five individuals from nonqualifying teams will advance to state.
The first tee time is 9:04 a.m. and the final tee time is 10:24 a.m.
Ashley Johnson, Kym Scafe, Jaclyn Morgenstern, Leah Tacha, Molly Flavin and Candace Bailey will form the Firebird team.
"It's going to be a real challenge to come out of this regional with Washburn Rural and Manhattan in the tournament," FSHS coach Steve Grant said.
LHS will be represented by Leslie Short, Diane Riat, Whitney Juneau, Kelly Jacob, Haley Griffin and Susan Lawhorn.
Baldwin to hold 4A regional
Baldwin is the host site for a 4A tennis regional today.
Chanute, Columbus, DeSoto, Fort Scott, Iola, Lansing, Perry-Lecompton, Mill Valley and Spring Hil will complete the regional.
The top four singles placers and top four doubles placers will advance to 4A state on Friday in Pratt.
-- Sports writer Steve Rottinghaus can be reached at 832-7152.