The featured event of the day — a four-match showdown between Lawrence High and Free State — never happened.
Instead, the city’s two high school girls tennis teams unleashed an assault on the souths — Olathe and Shawnee Mission.
Wednesday, at the rain-shortened LHS varsity quad at First Serve, the Lions and Firebirds both walked away with victories and a hint of frustration after rain ended the meet before it was finished.
“It’s really disappointing because we had all prepared mentally and physically for a long day of tennis,” LHS senior Jordan Payne said. “And then we just had it cut off abruptly.”
Instead of playing four matches against the three other schools at the invite, the Lions and Firebirds played one each, with LHS defeating Shawnee Mission South, 3-1, and Free State sweeping Olathe South, 4-0.
Playing in the No. 1 singles spot instead of her usual No. 1 doubles slot, Payne made quick work of SM South’s Hope Harkins in an 8-2 victory. Regular No. 1 singles player, Elizabeth Simons, teamed with No. 2 singles player Taylor Eubanks to win the No. 1 doubles match, 8-5. Bailey Frei and Morgan Manger combined to win, 8-3, in the No. 2 doubles slot.
“We’re keeping it going,” LHS coach Steve Hudson said of his team’s hot start. “We mixed it up today, more just to have some fun and to throw in some variety for the team.”
The only LHS player to fall on Wednesday was No. 2 singles player Arianne Suchy, who trailed early but nearly rallied after being moved indoors for the completion of her match.
For Free State, Wednesday’s meet was a last-minute addition to the schedule. Because of that, the Firebirds entered the day with a carefree feeling and a different focus.
“One of our goals today was to have our doubles teams come out and play well,” FSHS coach John Richey said. “It was nice to see them both get victories.”
Liz Walters and Ashley Stagg won in the No. 1 doubles slot (8-4), and Guin Toalson and Caitlyn Tilden were victorious (8-2) at the No. 2 doubles slot.
“It was nice having the focus on us for a change,” Walters said. “And we played really well. I don’t know what it was, but we just connected today.”
In Free State’s singles action, No. 2 player Kelly Phipps — who also had to finish her match inside — defeated Olathe South’s Rebah Chalise, 8-4. The most impressive showing of the day, however, was the performance of the team’s No. 1 player, Mackenzie Lown, who battled a raging head cold to hold off O-South’s Rachel Smith, 8-5.
Richey said it was obvious that Smith was aware of Lown’s condition because she continually hit drop shots and tried to run Lown from side to side.
“She knew, and she tried to use it to her advantage,” Richey said. “But Mackenzie showed a lot of fight out there and was really focused. When you start feeling ill, one of the first things to go is the mental game, but she stayed sharp.”
Although play was suspended Wednesday, the quad has not been scrapped altogether. Hudson said he and the other coaches soon would discuss a date for the completion of the event.
Next up for the Lions is the Emporia Tournament on Saturday. The Firebirds also will play Saturday at the Hiawatha Invitational.