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Archive for Wednesday, October 4, 2006

City schools come together for a shot at the title

October 4, 2006

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However, the team who had to travel the farthest was the one to shine the brightest.

Washburn Rural dominated all five categories of competition and reached the final match in every bracket.

In the previous week's tournament in Topeka, West took the team title by just one point.

Although four of those final matches pitted Washburn against West's varsity, Washburn won three of them. They returned the favor, winning by just three points.

The 38-35 team win gave Washburn Rural the championship trophy.

Laura Smysor, West coach, said the traveling trophy spent a year with the champion then came back the next year, where the participants tried to take the title all over again.

The girls play for individual medals and pride, and there was plenty of that to go around.

South coach Brandon Mellen said he had so many players that they could only practice every other day in order for everyone to get an opportunity.

"We make a lot of strides throughout the year, but it's harder to play against smaller teams that have more practice," Mellen said.

For the first time all season, South managed four consecutive days of practice, and that had its hopes high.

"We had a goal to finish fourth today," Mellen said. "We're gonna be fired up about that."

The Cougars did just that, tying Southwest's second team with 21 points.

Southwest and West both brought two teams of eight in order to fill out the standard eight-team bracket. Coaches from the other schools did not mind the extra players, though.

Baldwin's Ginny Honomichl liked that she could bring eight players rather than the typical six to a tournament. She has been bringing freshmen and sophomores to the tournament for several years.

"The point is just to get them some experience," Honomichl said.

And everyone did. Every player was guaranteed three matches.

Melissa Morales, Central eighth-grader, took eighth place in number-two singles, but said she still had fun and learned from the experience.

"My coach says I should get the award for improvement," Morales said.

That coach, Rob Robbirds, said his team was doing well, considering the circumstances.

"We have a lot of seventh-graders, so they've only been playing four to five weeks of their entire life," Robbirds said. "They're playing really well for who they're up against."

That included girls who played tennis for years before they reached junior high, girls like South's Taylor Eubanks and Washburn's Lexi Hertling, who stormed both of the recent tournaments, giving the rest of the number-one singles field no chance.

The final between those two was a 7-5 thriller that Eubanks snagged after letting Hertling come back from being down 5-3.

Aside from that final, one of the most intriguing matches on the day was the No. 2 doubles final that put the two Southwest teams against each other in the third-place match.

Elizabeth Walters and McKenzie Liebl beat out their teammates 6-0 for the medal, but they did not exactly enjoy themselves in the process.

Walters said they began the match with some playful trash-talking, but things soon got more serious.

"Even though we did win, we're not as excited," Walters said. "It was hard."

Liebl agreed.

"I felt bad, but I wasn't gonna let them win," she said holding her bronze medal proudly.

That match put Southwest's varsity in position to finish third overall, five points ahead of South.

The invitational marked the end of the season for all the schools but Baldwin, which has a few more tournaments to play.

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