The Garden City High School’s Lady Buffs tennis team, opening its 2019 season later in the calendar than most schools, made its debut a hugely successful one Saturday by winning the Great Bend Invitational.
The Lady Buffs did so by winning three of the four divisions — both singles divisions and the No. 2 doubles competition while the No. 1 doubles unit placed third among the eight teams entered.
Coach Rod Robinson’s squad finished with 64 points to outpace host Great Bend’s Red squad which totaled 54 points. WaKeeney was third with 50 while Dodge City followed in fourth with 38 points. Western Athletic Conference’s Liberal was sixth with 23 points while Great Bend’s Black squad was seventh with 13 points.
Senior Carson Linenberger and sophomore Sage Riggs stormed to the No. 1 and 2 singles titles by winning all five of their respective matches.
Linenberger had her toughest match in the opening round of Pool Play, needing a tiebreaker at 8-6 to break the 7-7 match against Ellinwood. She then rolled to an 8-2 win over Great Bend Black, 8-0 over WaKeeney and then in the cross pool play stopped Liberal’s No. 1, 8-3, before beating WaKeeney’s top player, 8-4, in the final.
Riggs, meanwhile, was equally impressive as she moved from playing doubles with Linenberger a year ago to play No. 2 singles in the season opener. She won her Pool Play matches by 8-0 over Ellinwood, 8-3 over Great Bend Black and 8-2 over WaKeeney. In the Cross Pool match, she dispatched Dodge City, 8-2, and then Great Bend Red, 8-2.
“I thought Carson came out a little slow at first, but then she maintained her focus, came from behind and played stronger the rest of the day,” Robinson said of his top returner. “Sage also got better as the day went along, and just played consistent throughout her matches. She did a good job of figuring out playing singles after playing doubles last year.”
In the doubles side of the competition, the No. 1 team of Hannah Kipp and Ashleigh Chappel went 4-1 to place third. In Pool Play, they beat Ellinwood *-5) and Great Bend Black (8-5) before dropping an 8-5 match to WaKeeney. In the Cross Pool, they beat Great Bend Red, 8-1, and then Hoisington, 8-4.
The No. 2 doubles team of senior Carole Galia and freshman Brooke Ptacek went 5-0 to win their division, beating Ellinwood (8-0), Great Bend Black (8-5), WaKeeney (8-6) and then in Cross Pool stopped Hoisington (8-4) and Dodge City (8-2).
“I was a little surprised at how well we played against these teams as most of them had one or two tournaments already so for our first time out, it was a great day for the girls,” Robinson said. “With new partners in doubles and the two singles players moving from doubles play a year ago, I thought everyone handled their new positions very well. It’s a pretty good start to the season.”
The Lady Buffs will travel to the Dodge City Invitational on Tuesday, Sept. 17.