PITTSBURG -- For the sixth consecutive season, Independence won the Southeast Kansas League Tennis Tournament as the Bulldogs beat out Parsons for the team title by four points.
Independence also had three of the four bracket champions and the runner-up in the other. All four finals were between Independence and Parsons entrants.
Fort Scott finished in seventh place with 12 points. The order of finish was Indy with 34 points, Parsons 30, Pittsburg 17, Chanute and Labette County each scoring 16 points but Chanute winning the tie-breaker for fourth, Coffeyville 14, the Tigers, Iola 8 and Columbus 1.
"Overall, I was pleased with the effort our girls gave on Saturday," Fort Scott head coach Lynn Barr said. "These girls have improved a lot since the start of the season and although we have a ways to go, they should feel proud of what they have accomplished. The seventh-place finish was our highest since 2005 so I think this group of players is poised to move the program back in the right direction."
The highest finish by a Tiger entry was the fifth-place outcome earned by No. 2 doubles players Ashlyn Baugher and Corina Harrison. They were 2-2 on the day. In their first match, they lost to Pittsburg's Sammi Hightower/Anna Frasco, 8-3. They won their next match over Marissa Schaurette/Ryleigh Schoech, 8-3. next, Erin Holeman/Katie Honas of Coffeyville took an 8-4 win. Finally, Baugher and Harrison defeated Kelsey Eckelberry and Paige Wells of Labette County, 8-7 (8-6) in the fifth-place match.
"Ashlyn and Corina had a good tournament," Barr said. "They won the matches they were supposed to win against the opponents that they had beaten before. They gave a good effort in both losses and played some solid tennis.
"They made a great comeback in their final match after falling behind against LCHS to come back and win in a tiebreaker. They are playing well together and much of that success is because they are getting their serves in play and not making a lot of errors."
Taylor Bailey and Michelle Buntain finished sixth in No. 1 doubles after going 1-3. In their first-round match, they defeated Regan Gilmore and Shelby Trimble of Pittsburg, 8-7 (7-3). In subsequent rounds, they lost to Bayley Conner/Ashley Carr of Independence, 6-1, 6-0; Jade Gardner/Jessica Tucker of Chanute, 8-4; and then to Gilmore/Trimble in a rematch, 8-3, in the fifth-place match.
"Taylor and Michelle started out great with a nice win over Pittsburg, a team that I've felt all year we were capable of beating," Barr said. "They faced a very good Indy team in the next round and then just never could get their games consistently back to the level they needed to be. Chanute and Pittsburg played pretty well in those final two matches, but we hurt ourselves. Both were matches we were capable of winning. We just need to learn to focus and play at a consistently higher level all day, not just in spurts for a match or two."
Heather Hobbs played No. 2 singles for the Tigers and was also sixth. She lost to Amberly Richins of Labette County in the first round, 8-1, but bounced back to beat Dannette Newland of Iola, 8-3. In Hobb's final two matches, Pittsburg's Ashton Born took an 8-0 decision and Chanute's Carlyn Ward took an 8-3 verdict.
"Heather had a good tournament," Barr said. "She also had to face several really solid players in her matches against Pittsburg, Chanute and LCHS. She does a nice job and just needs to keep working on improving her skills and her game strategy. Her forehand is becoming more of a weapon, she just needs to learn how and when to use it."
Kalia Dancy placed seventh in No. 1 singles. She lost to Sarah Ong of Parsons in the first round, 8-0, and to Amanda Carr of Iola, 8-5. In the seventh-place match, she defeated Rachel Gillman of Coffeyville, 8-1.
"Kalia played well in her matches, just had the misfortune of facing some good players in her first two matches," Barr said. "The match with Iola was a real battle with points lasting very long. She played well, won a lot of points but just couldn't string together enough to win a few extra games and take the match. This was a very tough bracket and Kalia did a great job representing us in the draw."
Bracket winners were Indy's Katie Porter in No. 1 singles, Brianna Hiler in No. 2 singles and Baxter and McGrath in No. 2 doubles. Adrienne Kurts and Kiralyn Mosier of Parsons won No. 1 doubles.