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Independence wins 7th straight tennis crown

Monday, October 4, 2010

CHANUTE -- Independence won its seventh consecutive Southeast Kansas League girls' tennis title here Saturday, beating out Parsons by just two points. Fort Scott finished in sixth place as a team.

The Tigers finished fifth in No. 1 doubles, sixth in No. 2 singles and No. 2 doubles and seventh in No. 1 singles.

Michelle Buntain and Corina Harrison (17-11) were seeded third in No. 2 doubles but were beaten in the first round by Labette County's Kaysha Julich/Allie Reynolds, 8-6. This team had beaten them a week ago in Pittsburg.

Next, Buntain and Harrison defeated Racheal Gilman/Haley Smith of Coffeyville, 8-1, putting them into the consolation semifinals. But there, they lost to Pittsburg's Sammie Highfield/KaCey Sinclair, 8-7 (8-6).

They faced Julich and Reynolds again in the fifth-place match and won 8-5.

"Michelle and Corina had a pretty good tournament," Fort Scott head coach Lynn Barr said. "They ended on a strong match coming back to beat the LC team in their final match of the night. We had a little trouble closing it out and let them win a couple of games right at the end, but played a good match overall. They just have to be a little more aggressive at times and end points when they have the opportunity."

Kalia Dancy and Courtney Crain (5-8) were seeded sixth in No. 2 doubles but beat Labette County's Lora Nance/Kelsey Eckelberry, 8-6, in the first round, getting past a team that had beaten them in Pittsburg.

Next, they faced Molly and Lexy Mangan of Independence, who went on to win the bracket, and lost a 6-0, 6-1 decision.

In consolation, Dancy and Crain lost to Jeana Lawrence and Jessica Tucker of Chanute in a tie-breaker, 8-7 (7-4). They met Nance and Eckelberry again in the fifth-place match but this time the LC duo took an 8-3 victory.

"Kalia and Courtney had a pretty good tournament," Barr said. " They opened with a good win over a LC team which had beaten them a few weeks ago in Pittsburg. The Indy team that beat them in the semis went on to win the division, so that loss came to a very strong team. We played some good tennis against Chanute in the third match in a very close match but just couldn't close it out at the end, losing in a tiebreaker. After a long wait they finally got on the court for their last match and had trouble getting started and just weren't able to get into any kind of rhythm until they had fallen behind quite a ways. They made a little late rally, but just had too big a deficit to overcome. I was proud of the way they came back, though, and didn't give up even when they were so far behind."

Ashlyn Baugher got the call to play No. 2 singles when regular entrant Heather Hobbs was unable to play due to an illness she suffered most of the week. Baugher had played mostly JV doubles this season.

Baugher (3-5) drew a No. 6 seed and lost in the first round, 8-0, to Pittsburg's Chapril Stewart. She defeated Coffeyville's Claire McAskill, 8-0 in the first round of consolation. Baugher lost to Labette County's Lakyn Baughman, 8-2, in the semifinals and to Chanute's Carlyn Ward, 8-1, in the fifth-place match.

"She did a nice job for us," Barr said. "It was a challenge moving to a varsity singles position after playing primarily JV doubles this season, but Ashlyn has been playing good tennis and I was confident that she would do a nice job for us at the league tournament. Although her record wasn't very good, she did a nice job with all of her losses coming to good players and she played some good tennis. She didn't make very many unforced errors and forced her opponents to win points against her."

Taylor Bailey (6-18) played No. 1 singles. She lost in the first round to second-seeded Kayla Steinle of Independence, 8-2. In the consolation bracket, she lost to Columbus' Shaylee Thomas, 8-7 (8-6). In the seventh-place match, she defeated Jasmine Bannister of Iola, 8-6.

"Taylor started out very strong in her first match against Independence winning the first two games, but her opponent settled in and came back to take the match, although Taylor continued to stroke the ball pretty well throughout the entire match," Barr said. "In her second match, she stroked well at times, but made some unforced errors and unforced errors always hurt in a close match. Taylor fell behind 3-6, made a nice come back to tie it at 6 all before dropping the final two games. In her final match against Iola she played some solid tennis at times, didn't hurt herself as much with errors and was able to hang on for the win. Taylor has played a lot of tough opponents this season and is starting to stroke the ball pretty well, she is very capable of pulling off a big upset if she puts it al together."

Independence's championship was its 28th since the SEK began sponsoring girls' tennis in 1973. They have won at least a share of every title since 2004, tying with Parsons in 2005 and winning the others outright.

Of the 38 league championships, either Independence or Parsons have won all but two (1974 and 1997).

Sarah Ong of Parsons won the No. 1 singles title, defeating Pittsburg's Ashton Born in the finals, 6-3, 6-1. Labette County's Katie Anderson took third with a 6-2 6-3 win over Czarina Ramos of Chanute in the third-place match. Steinle finished fifth after beating Thomas, 8-0, in the fifth-place match.

Lexi Dent of Independence claimed the No. 2 singles title with a 6-1, 6-2 sweep of Parsons' Amy Shaw in the finals. Stewart went on to finish third by beating Baughman, 6-2, 6-2.

Independence's Carr and McGrath won the No. 1 doubles title with a 6-1, 6-1 sweep of Mosier/Riggin of Parsons. Wendt/Gardner of Chanute finished third with a 6-1, 4-6, 12-10 verdict over Highfield/Sinclair.

The Mangan sisters defeated fourth-seeded Brummitt/Hall of Pittsburg for the No. 2 doubles title, 6-1, 6-2. Ong/Kipp of Parsons, the No. 1 seed upset in the semifinals, went on to take third, 6-3, 6-0, over Lawrence/Tucker.

The Tigers will go to Parsons Friday for the first day of the Class 4A Regional Tournament. Each SEK school except Class 5A Pittsburg will be there as will Spring Hill and Ottawa.

"We have several days of practice to prepare for this tournament so we will work on some things this week and try to be sharp going into play on Friday," Barr said. "This will be a very tough tournament with Independence and Parsons, I believe both ranked in the top 5 teams in 4A both in the same tournament."



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