With Lawrence High and Free State squaring off in their annual tennis dual today, it would only make sense that the stakes would be a little higher when the two rivals compete against each other.
"That's what people keep telling me," Lawrence High coach Dick Wedel said. "We want to win all the meets we can, so, obviously, for that reason we would like to beat Free State, as well."
The Firebirds will serve as host for the dual, which begins at 3 p.m. today with varsity doubles matches to immediately be followed by six singles matches.
The event, which began five years ago, has offered a unique experience for those participating.
"The girls know each other and sometimes play together in the summer," Free State coach Jon Renberger said. "The opposition is not just a school. It could be a friend or someone you went to school with in junior high."
Free State came away with a 5-4 victory in last year's matchup, continuing its undefeated streak against Lawrence in duals.
The Firebirds enter with a 4-0 record all-time in the cross-town meet.
"People make a big deal of that, but I'm not sure the girls pay that much attention," Renberger said. "There's not that much more pressure, because these girls are still teen-agers looking at the moment and not necessarily at history and tradition."
Andrea Koch will lead the Firebirds in the No. 1 singles spot, with Julia Guard solidifying the No. 2 spot.
Joanna Loewen, Meghan Bock, Holly Maygers and Molly Fyler also will compete in singles.
Free State might receive a boost in doubles from Leigh Luina, who could compete after missing most of the year because of a broken collarbone.
Renberger said he was encouraged from what he saw of his team's performance Saturday in Emporia. The coach had to leave early because of a health issue in the family.
"We made some changes," Renberger said, "and I think the girls were responding positively to them."
Meanwhile, Wedel will counter with Emily Thompson in the No. 1 spot and Lily Boyce at No. 2.
Lauren Kelly, Laura Wilson, Meredith Bush and Kylie Fritzel also will compete in singles and doubles for the Lions.
Lawrence is coming off a strong dual against Manhattan on Thursday. LHS won five of six singles matches in a 6-3 victory.
"For the most part this year, the singles have not measured up to what I thought it would be," Wedel said. "I was pleased when they came through against Manhattan."
The winner will receive one point in this year's Journal-World Cup standings, the yearlong, all-sports running tally between the two city schools. Coming into today, the schools are tied at 1 in the standings.