Five years ago, Abby Stevens led a Kapaun sweep in Class 5A by winning the state girls tennis championship.
She has finished her college eligibility and returned to the Crusaders as an assistant coach to Kathy Schulte, who is in her ninth season.
In the time since Stevens graduated, Carroll has dominated City League and looks to be tough again this year. Andover has won the past three 5A titles.
So, should Schulte need to show what a state champion looks like, she need only point to her assistant.
“I’m back in Kapaun territory, I love it,” Stevens said.
Stevens is finishing up her degree at Wichita State, where she transferred after starting at Colorado State. She aspires to become a physical-education teacher – and that includes coaching tennis.
So far, she’s enjoying the coaching end of the game.
“The girls are super-sweet and enthusiastic about the year, and we’ve got some good girls on the team this year, and we’re ready to bring it,” Stevens said.
Many of the Crusaders come in with some familiarity of the game, so Stevens said she teaches only when necessary.
“We have some real talent (at Kapaun), so I really don’t need to do too much instruction,” she said. ”I’m just excited to be out in the high school tennis environment again. I’m a Kapaun alum and a Crusader for life.”
Kapaun graduated four players, and Livia Ciccolari-Micaldi is the top returning senior. She will be looking to bounce back after missing the second half of last season because of a concussion.
“I would venture that (players) 1-8 are really strong, so depth is going to be in my favor,” she said. “I think we’re going to give (Carroll) a run for their money. I’ve got two state qualifiers returning.”
Also returning is sophomore Eleanor Baldwin, who was 24-6 and was fifth in 5A, and junior Kelly House, who was 21-11 and 10th at state. Schulte also has high hopes for freshman Claudia Fury.
OTHER CITY LEAGUE GIRLS TENNIS PLAYERS TO WATCH
Carroll – Brittany Steven, so.; Brayden Steven, so.; Emily Hybl, sr. Taylor Powers, sr.; Lauren Steven, so.
East – Cassidy Steward, jr.; Aditi Joshi, jr.
Heights – Tierra Johnson, jr.; Aubrey Stevenson, jr.; Sura Jaradate, sr.
North – Tiahna Padilla, jr.
Northwest – Brooke Peggs, sr.; Madison Surmeir, jr.; Savannah McHugh, so.; Madigan Snodgrass, jr.; Shanice Gitongo, jr.
South – Emilia Winterhalter, sr. Vicky Chantivong, jr.; Sandy Tran, jr.
Southeast – Cierra Hill, jr.; Jaden Boyd, sr. Helen York, jr.; Jordana Tucker, jr.; Karen Nguyen, jr.; Renee Holder, sr.
CITY LEAGUE GIRLS TENNIS SCHEDULE
27 – Carroll, Kapaun at Collegiate Classic, 8 a.m.; 30 – Heights at Carroll, 4:30; South at Kapaun, 4:30; East at North, 4:30; West at Northwest, 4:30.
1 – East at Maize Invitational, 3; Northwest at Carroll, 4:30; Southeast at Heights, 4:30; North at West, 4:30. 6 – North at Kapaun, 4:30; West at Southeast, 4:30; South at Northwest, 4:30; East at Heights, 4:30. 7 – Northwest at Kapaun, 4. 8 – Carroll at West, 4:30; Heights at South, 4:30; Southeast at East, 4:30; Kapaun at Goddard, 4:30. 10 – South at El Dorado Invitational, 9:30 a.m.; 12 – Northwest at Maize South tournament, 3; Kapaun at East, 4:30. 13 – Kapaun at Andover Central quad, 3; North at South, 4:30; West at Heights, 4:30; Carroll at Southeast, 4:30; Northwest at East, 4:30. 15 – Carroll, Kapaun at Arkansas City Invitational, 9 a.m.; West at Ellsworth; North, Northwest, South, Southeast at Derby Invitational, 3; South at West, 4:30; East at North, 4:30. 19 – West at East, 4:30; Heights at Northwest, 4:30. 20 – Kapaun at St. Thomas Aquinas Invitational; East at Carroll, 4:30; North at Northwest, 4:30; South at Southeast, 4:30. 21 – Kapaun at Heights, 4:30. 22 – East at Winfield Invitational, 3; Carroll at Andover Invitational, 3; Southeast at Kapaun, 4:30; Heights at North, 4:30; Carroll at South, 4:30. 24 – Carroll Kapaun, at Collegiate Tournament of Champions, 8 a.m. 26 – Heights, Eisenhower tournament, 3; East, Kapaun at Collegiate Invitational, 3. Northwest at Southeast, 4:30; Kapaun at West, 4:30; Carroll at North, 4:30. 27 – Kapaun at Carroll, 4; East at South, 4:30. 29 – Heights at Hutchinson Invitational, 10 a.m.
1 – City League tournament at WSU, 8 a.m. 8 – Regionals. 14-15 – State tournaments.