Preps notebook: City tennis standouts showing growth in singles play

Free State's Keegan VanPelt hits a ball back during her match Tuesday afternoon at LHS on Sept. 10, 2019.

Keegan VanPelt, Free State’s top singles player, has a clear mission this fall.

She placed sixth as a freshman at the Class 6A state tennis tournament two years ago. Last season, VanPelt improved on this finish by claiming fifth. Now she aims to continue that career trajectory while embracing more of a leadership role during her junior campaign.

“I’m hoping to do even better this year,” VanPelt said. “I just feel like I worked really hard in the summer. I have come out strong, and I’m ready.”

That strong start was evident Tuesday afternoon during a quadrangular at Lawrence High, which marked Free State’s third meet of 2019.

In the summer, VanPelt worked on her fitness and serves to help her finish off opponents in matches. VanPelt wasn’t tested much in her latest meet, however, as she won all three of her matches by a comfortable margin.

VanPelt started the day off with an 8-3 win over Mariana Ochoa of Shawnee Mission South. She then recorded an 8-0 victory over Olathe South’s Greta Albrecht. To end the day, VanPelt notched an 8-1 win over Lawrence High junior Lilli Derby.

She paced a FSHS girls tennis team that split its four matches with Shawnee Mission South and Olathe South, while recording a 3-1 victory over Lawrence.

“We had four out of our six (players) graduate, so it is pretty much a brand-new team,” VanPelt said. “We are just getting started, but I feel like we are going to get better throughout the season.”

Anna Peard, who is Free State’s other returner, also went 3-0 on the day at No. 2 singles. She knocked off Neely Hopkins of Shawnee Mission South (8-1), Evan Noller of Olathe South (8-3) and Katie Logan of Lawrence High (8-0) on the day.

“I felt more comfortable with my forehand than I have in the past,” Peard said. “I am a lot more consistent than I was at the beginning of the season.”

Despite her experience, Peard is adjusting to being a singles player for the first time in her high school career. Peard found out in the first week of the season that she was transitioning to singles play, but she has already made great strides in the first few matches.

“I’m getting more confidence,” Peard said. “It has been difficult because I feel like I use my feet a lot more than I was when I played doubles.”

Lawrence High’s Lilly Derby gets ready to serve the ball during her match Tuesday afternoon at LHS on Sept. 10, 2019.

Peard isn’t the only local singles player embracing a bigger role this fall.

LHS sophomore Katie Logan, who played junior varsity for much of last year, is finding success against tougher competition to start the season. On Tuesday, Logan’s lone loss was to Peard during a 2-1 afternoon.

Logan took down Eva Noller of Olathe South and Neely Hopkins of Shawnee Mission South, both by an 8-1 margin. She ended the day with an 8-0 loss to Peard, which served as an important lesson for Logan.

“I’ve never really played anyone at that level,” Logan said. “The biggest adjustment (to varsity) is being a lot more focused on points and actually having a strategy instead of just hitting it.”

Logan’s early success, which has led to a 6-3 overall record, is a credit to her commitment in the offseason. She was the only Lion to post a winning record during the team’s first home meet of the year. LHS split with Olathe South before suffering 3-1 losses to Shawnee Mission South and Free State.

Derby, Lawrence’s top singles player, recorded an 8-6 win over Albrecht. Lana Chieu and Laura Teska, the team’s top doubles tandem, also bested Free State’s duo of Taylor Veeder and Riddhi Duvvur on a tiebreaker.

“(Coach) has been switching the lineups a lot,” Logan said. “But I think the team chemistry is a lot better than last year.”

LHS quadrangular

LHS results

No. 1 singles: Lilli Derby, 1-2; Derby defeats Greta Albrecht of Olathe South, 8-6; Derby falls to Mariana Ochoa of SM South, 8-0; Derby falls to Keegan VanPelt of Free State, 8-1.

No. 2 singles: Katie Logan, 2-1; Logan defeats Eva Noller of Olathe South, 8-1; Logan defeats Neely Hopkins, 8-1; Logan falls to Anna Peard of Free State, 8-0.

No. 1 doubles: Lana Chieu and Laura Teska, 1-2; Chieu/Teska falls to Natalia Salinas and Skylar Gary of Olathe South, 8-2; Chieu/Teska falls to Madison Hanna and Mary Novak of SM South, 8-1; Chieu/Teska defeats Taylor Veeder and Riddhi Duvvur of Free State, 8-7(5)

No. 2 doubles: Morgan Marsh and Ryleigh Leon, 0-3; Marsh/Leon falls to Jacey Medin and Bailey Bassham of Olathe South, 8-3; Marsh/Leon falls to Taylor Burns and Lauren Gunter of SM South, 8-6; Marsh/Leon falls to Allison Reed and Olivia Slemmer of Free State, 8-1.

FSHS results

No. 1 singles: Keegan VanPelt, 3-0; VanPelt defeats Mariana Ochoa of SM South, 8-3; VanPelt defeats Greta Albrecht of Olathe South, 8-0; VanPelt defeats Derby of LHS, 8-1.

No. 2 singles: Anna Peard, 3-0; Peard defeats Neely Hopkins of SM South, 8-1; Peard defeats Eva Noller of Olathe South, 8-3; Peard defeats Logan of LHS, 8-0.

No. 1 doubles: Taylor Veeder and Riddhi Duvvur, 0-3; Veeder/Duvvur falls to Madison Hanna and Mary Novak of SMS, 8-2; Veeder/Duvvur falls to Natalia Salinas and Skyler Gray of Olathe South, 8-1; Veeder/Duvvur falls to Chieu/Teska of LHS, 8-7(5).

No. 2 doubles: Allison Reed and Olivia Slemmer, 1-2; Reed/Slemmer falls to Taylor Burns and Lauren Gunter of SM South, 8-1; Reed/Slemmer falls to Jacey Medin and Bailey Bassham of Olathe South, 8-5; Reed/Slemmer defeats Marsh/Leon of LHS, 8-1.

LHS boys soccer notches league win

Lawrence took down Gardner-Edgerton for a 3-1 road win Tuesday night.

It marked the Lions’ first league win after falling at home in the Sunflower League opener last week. Wheeler Battaglia-Davis, Mason Anderson and Kanak Masten all scored for Lawrence in a competitive match.

LHS (2-2) will travel to Shawnee Heights at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday.

Seahawks suffer loss in OT

Bishop Seabury’s boys soccer team battled, but ultimately came up short Tuesday night at Riverside City Park.

After the match went into overtime, BSA dropped a 2-1 decision to St. Mary’s to fall to 0-2 on the year. Evan McHenry scored the lone goal for the Seahawks in the loss.

Bishop Seabury will host Heritage Christian Academy at 5 p.m. Thursday.

FSHS football earns ranking

After being unranked to begin the year, it took just one week for Free State’s football to move into the top five.

According to Kpreps, FSHS is listed at No. 5 in Class 6A. The Firebirds rolled past Olathe West for a 45-19 win in the first game under head coach Kevin Stewart. Junior running back Tyler Bowden led the team with 18 carries for 174 yards.

FSHS travels to Olathe East (0-1) at 7 p.m. Friday.


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