CHANUTE -- Juniors Michelle Buntain and Corina Harrison finished fifth at the Class 4A Regional Tennis Tournament here over the weekend, earning a berth into the Class 4A State Tournament, which will be held this coming weekend at Pratt's Walter Blake Tennis Complex.
The Tiger doubles team has an 18-8 record on the season.
"Michelle and Corina stepped up and played the kind of tennis that they needed to play during the Regional Tournament," Fort Scott head coach Lynn Barr said. "They have struggled and not really played consistently at this level all year, but they did this weekend."
Buntain and Harrison drew the sixth seed and faced a "play-in" winner in their first Friday match, beating Shyenne Hendry/Megan Smith of Iola, 6-0, 6-0. They next fell to No. 3 seed Dee Mendoza/Erin Wesselowski of Independence, 6-1, 7-5, in the semifinals.
Buntain/Harrison returned Saturday in the consolation bracket, where they won the semifinal match over No. 10 Sami Brown/Paige Smith of Labette County, 6-0, 6-0. In the first place match, they defeated No. 5-seed Lora Nance/Elyse Merritt of LCHS, 6-2, 6-3, avenging a loss to that pair in the previous weekend's Southeast Kansas League Tournament.
Senior Ashlyn Baugher and sophomore Kenna Savage also played doubles for the Tigers. In post-season play, all entries in singles and doubles play in the same bracket.
They drew the No. 8 seed and defeated No. 9 Emily Baden/Lakyn Long of Pittsburg in Friday's first match, 6-7 (2-7), 6-1 (10-7) after a super tie-breaker.
"I was proud of the way the battled back and found a way to win even while not playing their best tennis," Barr said.
Kiralyn Mosier/Bree Rogers of Parsons defeated Baugher and Savage in the semifinals, 6-1, 6-2. The top-seeded Parsons team would go on to win the bracket with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 win over Kelsey Porter/Tyra Welch of Independence in the final.
Saturday, Nance and Merritt eliminated Baugher and Savage with a 6-2, 6-2 verdict. Had the Fort Scott team won, Baugher and Savage (8-8) would have faced Harrison and Buntain in the fifth-place match.
"They hung in and battled a good LCHS No. 1 team that has wins over our No. 1 team and the match was closer than the score would indicate," Barr said. "These girls gave us a great effort in this tournament."
Sophomore Courtney Crain, hoping to return to State as a singles player after qualifying in doubles last season, battled but could not overcome an ankle injury she suffered during a Sept. 27 dual versus Nevada that's been nagging her ever since. She was given the No. 10 seed and started the tournament with a Friday victory over No. 7 Katy Short of Pittsburg, 6-4, 6-1, after falling behind 4-0 in the first set. She lost to second-seeded Sarah Ong of Parsons in the semifinal, 6-1, 6-1.
Saturday, Katie Anderson of Labette County eliminated Crain (8-13) with a 6-2, 6-0 decision.
"On Saturday she came back and opened up playing Anderson much closer than the score would indicate," Barr said, "but then wasn't able to keep it up in the second set. She has really battled and gave us a great effort the last couple of weeks."
Sophomore Haleigh Whitten (9-9) also played singles. She had to defeat Iola's Abby St. Clair in a play-in match, 9-0. She then faced Anderson, who was the No. 3 seed in the tourney, and lost 6-0, 6-1, ending her season.
"Haleigh played very well in her win over Iola," Barr said. "She played well in her second match, but was just up against a very good player in Anderson from LCHS. Haleigh has done a really good job for us this season and we will be expecting big things from her next year."
Independence's Abbi Groff won the singles title with a 6-3, 6-0 sweep over Ong in the final.
Of the 10 teams entered in the Regional -- all nine SEK schools plus Ottawa of the Frontier League -- only five scored points in team standings. Independence was the winner with 21 points, followed by Parsons with 14, Labette County 10, Chanute 8 and Fort Scott 5.