Kapaun Mt. Carmel has come in runner-up in the team standings each of the past two years, but the Crusaders are primed to get over the hump in 2019.
Here are the top 10 high school girls tennis teams in the Wichita area ahead of the 2019 fall sports season:
1. Kapaun Mt. Carmel
Kapaun’s window to get back on top of the Kansas high school tennis world started two years ago when now-two-time champion Clara Whitaker was a freshman. Since then, the Crusaders haven’t won a team championship and watched rival Bishop Carroll win Class 5A by five points last year.
2019 will be Kapaun’s best shot since winning it last in 2005. Whitaker might be the best player in Kansas, and sophomore Reagan Boleski has a shot to succeed her. On the doubles side, Kapaun loses Eleanor Baldwin but brings back senior Claudia Fury who took fifth last year.
Heading into the 2019 boys tennis season, Collegiate coach Dave Hawley faced challenges of finding points in a lineup that lost its top two singles players. Now Hawley has to do it again on the girls side after losing regional champion Lauren Conrad, fellow senior Riley Ruffin and doubles champions Hannah Geoffroy/Sydney Lair.
The Spartans bring back Sallie Lair/Steph Gentile, who finished fifth in Class 4A last year and helped Collegiate to a team title. Outside of those two, Collegiate’s state team will be new to the scene. Still, if there is a team and a coach to pull off a mass overhaul and compete for another title, it’s Collegiate and Hawley.
3. Salina Central
Salina Central lost its No. 1 doubles team in seniors Maddie Stack/Grace Holgerson, but outside of that pair, the Mustangs’ state team is back. Senior Camryn Phelps and junior Regan Geihsler took fifth at their regional, but the biggest firepower is on the singles side.
Junior Callie Sanborn will likely be the Mustangs’ top scorer. She won Salina Central’s Class 5A regional tournament and took seventh at state. Senior Emery Newton took 12th and won 23 matches last year.
4. Salina South
Last year was magical for Salina South, and 2019 could be just as special. The Cougars finished third in Class 5A and bring back the same number of state qualifiers as Salina Central. The No. 1 doubles team of Sydney McAdoo/Jadyn Zamecnik will not be back after taking fifth at state, but the Cougars are in good hands.
Senior Jillian Coleman and junior Alexxa Nunemaker should be Salina South’s top doubles team. On the singles side, senior Robyn Logan returns after coming in eighth at state, and sophomore Iliana Armbrust is back, too.
5. Bishop Carroll
It feels almost unfair to put the defending Class 5A champion as the fifth-best team in the Wichita area the following season. The Golden Eagles lost that much though.
Brittany Steven came runner-up on the singles side, and Brayden Steven came fourth. Lauren Steven was part of the runner-up doubles team, and Lauren Esfeld was on the doubles team that came in 12th. None of them will be back. Juniors Paige Stranghoner and Vanessa Steven will look to carry the load.
McPherson qualified an entire team for state last year but didn’t have the payoff it was looking for. The Bullpups will be eager for another chance.
Tayler Bruce and CeAnna Taylor reached the doubles semifinals, and both return in 2019. They will be favorites to win a title. In fact, McPherson loses only one player from last year.
Buhler was two spots away from bringing home a state trophy last season after qualifying a full team in Class 4A.
The Crusaders lose a doubles player off each of their two teams but bring back their top two singles players.
Wellington made a jump last year into the top three at state. The Crusaders finished with 21 team points and held off Independence on a tiebreaker.
Despite not qualifying a singles player, Wellington’s two doubles teams came second and ninth in Class 4A.
9. Conway Springs
Last year’s regional tournament told Conway Springs it was in good hands despite losing senior Molly Schmanke. Rising sophomore Loren May finished one spot behind.
The Cardinals finished third in Class 3-2-1A last year and could do even better in 2019.
The Swathers finished runners-up in Class 3-2-1A last year. Hesston was home to the doubles champion sisters Kylie and Michaela Martin along with fourth-place singles finisher Halle Krehbiel.
Hesston must replace Kylie Martin and Ashley Hubbard, another doubles player.
BEHIND OUR REPORTING
The selection process
Preps reporter Hayden Barber selected these players based on questionnaires sent to coaches, last year’s performances and his own personal evaluation and knowledge of Wichita area high school athletics.
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