INDEPENDENCE -- Fort Scott High's No. 2 doubles team of senior Ashlyn Baugher and sophomore Kenna Savage finished in third place here Saturday at the Southeast Kansas League Tennis Tournament.
The Tigers finished fifth as a team, not as high as coach Lynn Barr had hoped for but one spot better than last season. Parsons won the team title, the first time someone other than Independence has taken it outright since 2003 -- which was Parsons. Parsons and Indy tied for the title in 2005. A team other than those two has won the title only twice since competition began in 1973 (Chanute 1974, Labette County 1997).
Baugher and Savage (7-6) were seeded fourth and defeated Hayley Alkridge/Beth Ungles of Chanute, 8-6, in the first round. They fell in the semifinals to Ashlyn Conner/Dee Mendoza of Independence, 6-0, 6-1. On the consolation side of the bracket, they beat Emily Boden/Lakyn Long of Pittsburg, 8-3, then won a rematch with Alkridge/Ungles, 6-4, 6-2, in the third-place match.
"These two have developed into a good solid doubles team," Barr said. "They played consistent tennis all day and overall did a good job of controlling the net all day. Ashlyn has really stepped up and is having the kind of season that you like to see a senior have. Last year was a disappointing one for her, but this year she has come back with a very strong season."
Sophomore Haleigh Whitten (8-8) placed fifth in No. 2 singles. As the sixth seed, she faced No. 3 Katy Short of Pittsburg in the first round, falling 8-6. In consolation, she beat Abbey St. Clair of Iola, 8-1. Whitten lost to Erin Wesselowski of Independence, 8-2, before taking the fifth-place match from Breianna Brooks of Chanute, 8-0.
"Haleigh had an excellent tournament," Barr said. "She opened with a great match against (Short) and very nearly came away with the upset. I knew what kind of singles Haleigh was capable of playing and she came through with the solid tournament we needed from her."
The junior duo of Michelle Buntain and Corina Harrison (15-
7) finished fifth in No. 1 doubles. Seeded third, they started with an 8-5 win over Jessica Curlee/Brittany Wilde of Pittsburg. In the semifinals, they fell to second-seeded Kelsey Porter/Tyra Welch of Independence, 6-1, 6-0.
In consolation, Buntain and Harrison suffered an 8-4 loss to the No. 5 seeded team, Lora Nance/Elyse Merritt of Labette County. That dropped them into the fifth-place match, a rematch with Curlee and Wilde that the Tiger team took 8-4.
"Michelle and Corina did not have a good tournament," Barr said. "They struggled in the first match against Pittsburg. They won, but they were just never able to distance themselves from Pittsburg like they should have. Our errors kept it close. The Indy team was a very strong team so again based on past results, that loss was somewhat expected.
"Against LCHS, we just made too many mistakes. The LCHS team had beaten us early in the season, but we had come back to win the last two against them. This time, LCHS eliminated a lot of their mistakes and we just didn't raise our game as we needed to in order to get the win."
Sophomore Courtney Crain (7-11) tried to fight through an ankle injury she suffered at the dual in Nevada Tuesday that had limited her practice over the remainder of the week. She drew the No. 5 seed in No. 1 singles and fell in the first round to Chanute's Czarina Ramos, 8-2. Crain then beat the No. 8 seed, Katana Smith of Iola, 8-2. Fighting the injury, she lost to Labette County's Katie Anderson, 8-1, and Pittsburg's Megan Reed, 8-7 (7-4) to finish in sixth place.
"Courtney gave a very gutsy performance," Barr said. "She came out Saturday and gave us a good effort in spite of being limited on what she could do. She got a nice win against Iola and then played a very, very tough match against Pittsburg in her final match of the day, eventually losing in a tiebreaker.
"Even being hampered by the ankle injury, Courtney was disappointed in that loss. She is a tough competitor."
Parsons' Sarah Ong, the top seed, won No. 1 singles with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over second-seeded Abbi Groff of Independence. LC's Katie Anderson finished third with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Ramos.
The No. 4 seed won the No. 2 singles bracket as Malina Kipp of Parsons upset top-seeded Wesselowski, 4-6, 6-2, 10-5, in the semifinals. She went on to beat second-seeded Lakyn Baughman of Labette County in the finals, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0.
Wesselowski went on to finish third with a 6-2, 6-2, sweep of Short.
Porter and Welch, the No. 2 seed, lost to top-seeded Mosier/Rogers of Parsons in the No. 1 doubles final, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2). Nance and Merritt took third with a 2-6, 6-1, 13-11 win over Wendt/Thurston of Chanute.
Independence's Conner and Mendoza, the top-seeded duo in No. 2 doubles, went on to sweep the final from second-seeded Harris/Jump of Parsons, 6-2, 6-4.
Parsons won the team title by one point over Indy, 32-31. Labette County was a distant third with 21 points. Chanute was fourth with 19 and the Tigers followed with 17. Pittsburg took sixth with 16 points, Iola was seventh with 7 and Coffeyville was eighth with 5 points. Columbus finished last with 2 points.
Fort Scott has been assigned to the Chanute Class 4A Regional Tournament, which will be held Friday and Saturday. All of the SEK schools will be there along with Ottawa -- which was a league member for four years in the late 1980s.
"Regionals this weekend will be tough," Barr said. "Both the singles draw and doubles draw will have some really good players in there.
"The singles draw will be tough for us, there are just a lot of good singles players in the league this year. We should have a little better chance in the doubles side, but we will have to step it up and play better tennis than we did this weekend to advance anyone through to the State Tournament."