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Kansas girls state tennis: KC Christian’s Lilly McNeill wins third straight title

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Kansas City Christian senior Lilly McNeill won her third straight singles state championship on Saturday to put the final stamp on her dominant career at the Kansas Class 3-1A girls tennis championships at Harmon Park Tennis Complex.

For the third straight year, McNeill defeated her adversary from Central Plains, Emily Ryan, in straight sets in the championship match, this time only allowing Ryan to take one game off her. In four matches at the state tournament this weekend, it was the only game that McNeill lost.

In her run as state champion the last three years, McNeill has won 95% of her matches and finished with a combined 69-4 record. McNeill will continue her career at Biola University, a Division II program in La Mirada, Calif.

McNeill’s individual success has spurred on team success by KC Christian, which won its third straight team championship on Saturday with 40 team points — three points more than Central Plains.

KC Christian’s top doubles team, Juliet Bartels and Kiera Knoflicek, reached the title match and finished second, while Emma Sand took fifth in the singles field.

BVNW’s Prinyarux wins 6A singles; BV North, SM East share team crown: Before heading off to Rutgers, Blue Valley Northwest senior Alisa Prinyarux had one last thing to accomplish in her high school career: a singles state championship.

Prinyarux did just that by knocking off top-seeded Callie Flanagan, a BV North junior, in a three-set thriller, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, to win the 6A singles title in Topeka at Kossover Tennis Center. It was a rematch of the regional championship game that Flanagan won just a week ago.

Prinyarux finished third in 6A singles in 2017 and was also part of a state-title doubles team in 2016. Flanagan entered the match on Saturday with a 31-1 record and had been a part of back-to-back undefeated state championship doubles teams the last two years.

In 6A doubles, the Shawnee Mission East freshman duo of Bryson Langford and Greta Stechschulte won the title by defeating BV North juniors Christine O’Brien and Emme Mackenzie in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4.

SM East was originally awarded the team championship on a tiebreaker over BV North after both finished with 43 team points. Four days later, KSHSAA retroactively named BV North the team state champion after saying it had omitted two matches from Saturday during the tiebreaker process.

Then, on Nov. 7, KSHSAA ruled a final time, saying SM East and BV North would share the team title due to a vagary in the wording of state rules regarding how to settle such ties.

BV North was led by title-match appearances in singles by Flanagan and in doubles by O’Brien and Mackenzie, while Sophia Bailos finished eighth in singles and the pair of Divya Gupta and Caroline Thummel finished ninth in doubles. It

BV Northwest took home the third-place trophy, thanks to Prinyarux’s title and the inspired run of doubles team Rhea Desai and Emily Chiasson, who qualified fourth out of their region and entered with a 10-11 record and rallied to finish sixth overall at the state tournament.

Other KC-area medalists in singles included Lawrence Free State’s Keegan VanPelt (fourth), SM East’s Allison Wilcox (fifth), Olathe West’s Ashley Jacobson (sixth), BV West’s Gwyn Gifford (seventh), Mill Valley’s Sophie Lecuru (ninth), SM East’s Eva Kading (11th) and SM South’s Mariana Ochoa Guerra (12th).

In doubles, KC-area medalists included Blue Valley’s Sophia DeSimone and Sreelasya Mylavarapu (third), SM East’s Quinci Cartmell and Bridget Epstein (fourth), Blue Valley’s Katherine Price and Elle Kotre (fifth), Mill Valley’s Avery Altman and Eden Schanker (seventh), SM Northwest’s Michaela Crowe and Naeley Torline (eighth), and Olathe East’s Megan Li and Hali Liu (10th).

St. James doubles team makes finals: At the 5A state tournament in Pittsburg, the St. James Academy seniors Molly Book and Madi Biondo lost in the doubles championship match to McPherson’s undefeated duo of Taylor Bruce and CeAnna Allen in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3.

St. James finished fourth in the team race with 26 points, two away from a team trophy, as Megan Ward finished eighth in singles and the No. 2 doubles team of Kathleen Shepard and Mia Staley finished 12th. BV Southwest’s Merritt Ellis (12th in singles) was the only other KC-area medalist.

At the Class 4A tournament, Bishop Miege had two medalists in Mariel Allen (12th in singles) and Riley Hagen and Olivia Hayward (10th in doubles).

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Nov. 7 to include a KHSAA ruling on the team title in Class 6A.

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