GIRLS TENNIS: Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020
All season, first-year head coach Logan Bevis believed his Garden City Lady Buffs tennis team would prevail in the Western Athletic Conference round-robin championship.
For most of what seems like a lightning-length season which began just barely a month ago, the Lady Buffs had proven they had the ilk to repeat as WAC titleholders.
On Monday, at Liberal’s tennis complex, the Lady Buffs reaffirmed Bevis’ prediction by claiming their fifth straight WAC crown and sixth in the last seven years.
The Lady Buffs claimed individual titles in No. 1 and 2 singles behind the 4-0 performances of Sage Riggs and Brooke Ptacek, while the No. 1 and 2 doubles teams placed second, respectively, to provide the Buffs with 13 team points, with Dodge City claiming second with 10 points. Great Bend (8), Liberal (6) and Hays (3) rounded out the team points.
“I felt like we dealt with a bunch of different obstacles today and the girls did a good job of dealing with adversity throughout the day,” Bevis said afterward. “We struggled out of the gate, starting with Great Bend. We won 3 of 4 matches against them as the girls did a good job of rebounding.”
Riggs, perhaps, had the toughest start of the tournament, facing defending WAC Player of the Year Remi Ingram of Great Bend. A year ago, Riggs was playing No. 2 singles for the Buffs and did not face Ingram at the WAC tourney. However, she did face her in another 2019 match-up and came away with a win then, too, making her 2-0.
“Sage had a slow start against Ingram, but she rebounded and played really solid tennis throughout the remainder of that match and the day,” Bevis said as Riggs improved to 28-3 for the season.
Riggs followed that tough opening match with wins over Priscilla Vasquez of Liberal, 8-1; Maggie Robben of Hays, 8-2; and Faith Heath of Dodge City, 8-1.
Brooke Ptacek went 4-0 to grab the No. 2 singles gold medal. She was impressive throughout the matches, defeating Great Bend’s Grace Dougherty, 8-0; Liberal’s Jaciana Rivera, 8-4; Hays’ Jamie Haddaway, 8-0; and Dodge City’s Sammy Nguyen, 8-2.
“Brooke was again solid all day and was in control in all of her matches on the way to her sweep,” Bevis said. “Her growth throughout the season has been great and I’m really looking forward to what she’ll do at regionals.”
The No. 1 doubles team of Ashleigh Chappel and Sydney Nanninga lost their opening match to eventual champion Great Bend’s Abbie Moyers and Anna Popp, 3-8. But they then defeated Liberal’s Riddhi Bombaywala and Briana Sanders, 8-5; T;aylor Deines and Ginny Ke of Hays, 8-0, and Dodge City’s Jewel Escobar and Mariana Ortiz, 8-5.
“They rebounded from a tough early round loss to Great Bend and then finished the day with one of their better matches of the year to beat Dodge City’s No. 1,” Bevis said. “It hasn’t always been easy, but they’ve been committed to playing tactically sound doubles and it showed in their last match.”
The No. 2 doubles team was without usual partner Chloe Powell, who was injured at the McPherson tournament on Saturday. Bevis inserted Payton Tull to pair up with Rilee McGraw.
Those two won their first three matches before falling to champion Dodge City in the final match of the day. Their wins came against Madison Huslig/Ruth Williams of Great Bend, 8-5; Aracely Jurado/Katie Classen of Liberal, 8-6; and Caroline Robben/Sage Zweifel of Hays, 8-6. The loss to Dodge’s Becca Unruh/America Gamaz was by an 8-3 margin.
“It wasn’t the easiest of circumstances for either of them,” Bevis said, “but they played hard and gotthe team a big win early against Great Bend and finished second after winning a three-way tie.”
Riggs’ sparkling 28-3 mark is likely to give her a high seeding at regionals while Ptacek will carry a 24-8 record into regionals. Chappel and Nanninga have posted a 22-9 mark. With Powell nursing an injury, Bevis said his second doubles team will likely have a new look on Saturday. Powell and McGraw had gone 10-4 together.
Next up for the girls will be the Class 6A regional tournament on Saturday, Oct. 10, at Wichita North. The action begins at 9 a.m. The top 4 singles and doubles finishers will qualify for the state tournament, scheduled for Oct. 16 and 17 at the College Boulevard Activity Center in Olathe.