Kapaun Mount Carmel's Abby Stevens, third at state in Class 5A a year ago, picked up where she left off on Saturday, cruising through the bracket and winning the Wichita Collegiate Classic singles title.
Stevens scored three 8-0 victories in advancing to the final against Collegiate sophomore Brooke Withrow. Withrow was the only player to win a game from Stevens, who pulled out an 8-1 triumph.
"There were some tough competitors out there today, some of the best," Stevens said. "I just focused on my game. I didn't let anything affect me, and I just played tennis."
She also managed to defeat the elements, conquering heat in the 90s and finishing her triumph in the final before a brief downpour halted play at the Collegiate courts, delaying matches — including the doubles final — for about 45 minutes.
"I just played every point and didn't let the weather affect me," Stevens said. "Brooke's a good player, and I was happy to get a win."
Stevens' performance came as no surprise to Kapaun coach Kathy Schulte.
"I thought Abby had a relatively easy time," Schulte said. "It's not that she had easy opponents, she just did really well through the whole draw.
"This is her third year playing for us, and she's just really grown and gotten stronger."
Schulte credited Stevens' off-season work for helping her through Saturday's conditions.
"That's where her strong work ethic comes through," she said. "Some of the girls who don't play as much in the off-season are wilting in the heat."
Withrow had a fairly easy path to the final, not dropping a game until facing Blue Valley North's Madison Rhyner, the Class 6A runner-up a year ago. But Withrow escaped with an 8-6 victory to advance to the final against Stevens.
"She's a tremendous talent," Collegiate coach Dave Hawley said of Withrow. "We haven't had many girls in the time I've been here that are like her in terms of her ability to play and her work ethic and how hard she works.
"I'm very, very pleased with how she played. She ran out of gas there at the end, but a lot of that is a credit to Abby and how Abby played. This is a loaded tournament. When you get to the semis, everyone is statewide-class."
Team Scores — 1. Blue Valley North 75; 2(tie). Collegiate, Kapaun 64; 4. Notre Dame de Sion 48; 5. Blue Valley West 47; 6. Bishop Carroll 41; 7. St. Thomas Aquinas 40; 8. Blue Valley Northwest 28, 9. Blue Valley 24; 10. Buhler 19; 11. Arkansas City 16; 12. Maize 13; 13. Wellington 7; 14. Derby 5; 15. Blue Valley Southwest 2; 16. Collegiate Gold, Trinity Academy, Eisenhower 1.
Singles — 1. Stevens, Kapaun, def. Withrow, Collegiate, 8-1; 3. Rhyner and Flanagan, BV North, default; 5. Steffes, BV West, def. O'Connor, Notre Dame, 8-1; 7. Lowe, BV NW, def. Schulte, Kapaun, 8-1; 9. Henne, Notre Dame, def. Miller, BV West, 8-1.
Doubles — 1. Johnson-Huddleston, St. Thomas, def. Fries-Earhart, BV West, 8-2; 3. Fields-Schultz, BV North, def. Lauer-Feldkamp, Bishop Carroll, 8-3; 5. Pringle-Baldwin, Kapaun, def. Koutelas-Choia, Notre Dame, 8-7 (7-5); 7. LeMaster-Johnson, Collegiate, def. Dunn-Funke, Collegiate, 8-6; 9. Miller-Kukuk, BV NW, def. Olberding-Powers, St. Thomas Aquinas, 8-3.