PARSONS -- Both of Fort Scott's doubles teams finished in second place at the Southeast Kansas League Tennis Tournament here Saturday. Meanwhile, the Tigers finished fifth in the now-seven-team tournament is just two points separated second place from fifth.
Independence claimed its eighth title in nine years by scoring 26 points, taking the No. 1 singles and No. 1 and No. 2 doubles titles.
"This was one of the most competitive SEK Tournaments we have ever been involved in," Fort Scott Head Coach Lynn Barr said. "We were a little disappointed with a fifth-place finish, but when you realize that there were only two points separating the four teams placing from second to fifth, you understand just how close this tournament really was. I was so very proud of these girls and the way they competed in this tournament. They played hard, stayed focused and competed until the very end."
Pittsburg and Parsons tied for second place with 15 points each. Pittsburg's Brittany Wilde won the No. 2 singles title over Indy's Ashlyn Conner, 6-4, 6-1. Parsons, which won last year's title, finished second in No. 1 singles when Malina Kipp was swept by Indy's Abby Groff, 6-0, 6-0, in the final.
Chanute was fourth with 14 points. Fort Scott finished with 13 points, then Labette County had 4 and Coffeyville came in last with 1.
Michelle Buntain and Corina Harrison (17-5), both seniors, opened No. 1 doubles play with an 8-1 win over Emily McCoach and Patricia Stevenson of Labette County. They defeated Alexis Thurston and Abby Liudahl of Chanute, 7-5, 6-4, in the semifinal. Independence's Kelsey Porter and Tyra Welch won the final, 6-2, 6-3.
"The Chanute team had a good game plan and executed it very well and kept us from doing some of the things we normally like to do," Barr said. "But Michelle and Corina stayed focused, kept grinding and pulled out the win in two close sets. In the final, they faced an Indy team that they have faced several times this season. The Indy team keeps a lot of pressure on you and although we were able to win points, we just were not able to string enough points together to win more games."
Bree Rogers and Kelsey Jump of Parsons took the third-place match from Thurston-Liudahl, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.
Courtney Crain and Kenna Savage (10-2) won their first-round No. 2 doubles match over Caitlin Closs and Jackie Wertz of LCHS, 8-1. They defeated Chanute's Chelsea Bearrick and Beth Ungles in the semis, 6-2, 6-1. Indy's Erin Wesselowski and Dee Mendoza took the final, 6-1, 6-2.
"Courtney and Kenna are playing some very good doubles right now," Barr said. "Kenna is one of the most consistent doubles players we have, and understands where to be and what to do with the ball when she gets it and Courtney can be very dominant with her serve and forehand when she gets them going"
Bearrick and Ungles went on to take the third-place match over Pittsburg's Katie Phalen and Emily Baden, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5.
Jennifer Harrison finished fifth in No. 1 doubles in her first SEK Tournament. The freshman (15-4) defeated Labette County's Sami Brown, 8-6, in the first round. She fell to Kipp in the semifinal, 6-2, 6-1. Pittsburg's Katy Short took an 8-3 win in the consolation semifinal and would go on to beat Chanute's Rebecca Wendt, 6-1, 6-0, in the third-place match. Harrison won a rematch over Brown in the fifth-place match, 8-2.
"Jennifer has had a tremendous season as a freshman,' Barr said. "I know she had hoped for a higher finish, but in her losses she faced two good players. Kipp who is an excellent player and a senior with more tournament experience to draw on and Short played some very, very good tennis against Jennifer.
"Even after two disappointing losses though Jennifer came back in the fifth-place match and won in a decisive fashion against the LC player she had played in the first round in a much closer match. I think this shows a lot about the kind of player Jennifer is and the player she is going to develop into in the coming years. Instead of getting down after the two losses, she came back very focused and played even harder. That attitude will serve her very well in the coming years."
Krista Hightower (7-8) finished sixth in No. 2 singles. She lost to Labette County's Paige Smith in the first round, 8-2. She then shut out Coffeyville's Jessica Soyung, 8-0. She lost to Parsons' Sami Ford, 8-0, and then to Smith in a rematch for fifth, 8-6.
"Krista did a great job for us at this tournament and she should be very proud of her effort," Barr said. "She knew going in that she was going to have some tough matches, but she also knew that every point would be important for us on the team totals.
"I was really proud of her effort in her last match of the day. She aggravated the ankle injury she suffered in Pittsburg just over a week ago in the match against Parsons and it was bothering her going into that final match. (I)t would have been easy for her to just go through the motions in that final match, but she didn't. She came out and played probably her best match of the day, played consistent tennis, made her opponent hit a lot of balls to win points and very nearly came away with the win. Winning is great, but seeing a kid give that kind of effort is what makes coaching fun.
Ford went on to take fifth place over Wendt, 6-1, 6-0.