Olathe As the shadows crept on the College Boulevard Activity Center tennis courts Thursday evening, only two matches were still in action at the Sunflower League tournament. Both of which involved Free State High doubles teams.
The two teams closed out an all-day affair at the 12-team tournament and Free State's No. 1 doubles tandem of senior Andrea Chen and junior Ali Dodd placed third, winning the bronze with a 9-8 (2) tiebreak victory against Shawnee Mission South.
The Firebirds sealed a second-place finish in the team standings with 30 points, 13 fewer than league champion SM East. It was the school's best finish at league since 2002.
“I’m so proud of the way we played,” Dodd said. “I think we communicated really well and I think we competed probably the toughest we have ever had.”
Dodd and Chen ended up going 3-1 on the day. They began the day 2-0 before falling to the eventual champion of SM West in the semifinals. Their first win came against a pair of teammates with a 9-0 victory over Anna Peard and Gabby Gorman.
“Yeah, that was really tough,” Dodd said. “Because obviously we want our whole team to do well and just the mental state of playing your own team. But I think all of us played really well today and we competed. Can’t be happier about that.”
Free State’s No. 2 doubles team of Peard and Gorman were able to overcome the rough draw, however, breezing through the consolation bracket before ultimately falling SM Northwest in the 9th-place match.
It was not the only time of the day that teammates squared off. On the singles side, sophomore Kate Piper defeated Andi Veeder (9-2) to move onto the fifth-place match.
Piper eventually finished sixth while Veeder placed seventh.
“I think they did very well, it is a long day,” FSHS interim coach Michael Trujillo said. “It’s good to see how they can handle continued pressure."
Lawrence High finishes ninth
Lawrence High scored five of its eight team points from their two doubles teams, both of which fell just short of reaching the ninth-place match. As a result, LHS tied for ninth as a team.
“To finish 11th and 12th out of a 24-team bracket and the quality of the teams in our league,” LHS coach Chris Marshall said. “I’m very pleased with our doubles play and I look forward to improving for regionals next Saturday.”
After losing its first match, Lawrence High’s No. 1 doubles duo of senior Natalie Cote and junior Chloe Thornton were able to salvage the day with a pair of victories before falling to a pair from SM Northwest by a score of 9-8 (3).
Meanwhile, in the other consolation battle to move to the ninth-place match, juniors Mia Waters and Chisato Kimura lost to Gorman and Peard of Free State. The Lions’ pair knocked off the Firebirds combo earlier that week, but noted afterwards how exhausted they were by the time they faced off again.
“We are not really used to playing all day,” Kimura said after posting a 3-2 record Thursday. “The last match was a bit tough of because we were really tired.”
Both of Lawrence High’s singles players, senior Nina Givotovsky and sophomore Caitlynn Kliem each won a match as well before being eliminated in the consolation bracket.
Sunflower League tournament
Thursday at College Boulevard Activity Center
Team scores: SM East 41, Free State 30, SM Northwest 24, Olathe East 24, Olathe South 23, SM South 19, Olathe North 12, Olathe Northwest 9, Lawrence 8, SM West 8, Leavenworth 8, SM North 1.