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5 going to State for 1st time since 2000

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fort Scott High School's qualifiers for the 2012 Kansas Class 4A State Tennis Tournament are (from left): FRONT -- juniors Courtney Crain and Kenna Savage in doubles; BACK -- seniors Michelle Buntain and Corina Harrison in doubles and freshman Jennifer Harrison in singles. The State Tournament will be held Friday and Saturday in Emporia.
(Scott Nuzum/Tribune)
The last time Fort Scott High School sent five players to a State Tennis Tournament, it was still a Class 5A school. And as was the case in 2000, the year's Tigers will send two doubles teams and a singles player to the 2012 Class 4A State Tournament, which begins Friday morning in Emporia.

Three members of the 2012 contingent -- seniors Michelle Buntain and Corina Harrison and junior Courtney Crain -- have past State experience. Making their first State trips are junior Kenna Savage and freshman Jennifer Harrison, Corina's sister.

Buntain and Harrison qualified for State doubles last year as well as this year. They'd like to win both their matches on the first day of competition so that they can continue to play on Saturday.

"It's just a little bit better because it's our last year," Corina Harrison said. "We'd like to actually make it to the second day. We had the experience of it last year."

"I think we're going to be less nervous this year since we've been there once," Buntain said.

Crain, who went to State as a freshman with doubles partner Kalia Dancy, would also like to get to the second day of play this time with Savage as her partner.

"I want to make it to Saturday at least," Crain said.

"Same here," Savage added. "I've never really been so I'm not sure what to expect."

For Jennifer Harrison, winning a match would be icing on the cake. She said that her goal as a freshman was just to get to State.

"I've already told coach (Lynn) Barr that if I don't win any matches, I won't be disappointed because I made it to State and I'm only a freshman," she said.

The doubles teams had to play a sort of unusual match for fifth place in the Regional Tournament last weekend at Independence. They had to face each other in a match that counted since Regionals and State don't separate entrants into No. 1 and No. 2 brackets. Buntain and C.Harrison had to play Crain and Savage in the fifth-place match. Both teams were assured of going to State at that point.

"I think it would be better that way than if one of us had got to go and the other didn't," C. Harrison said.

"It didn't really feel like a match much," Savage said. "It felt like it was just a practice."

Buntain said she had that same "practice" feeling.

"Yeah, we were all already in, so it was just a placing match instead of one of us getting eliminated," Buntain said. "But we wanted to win, though."

J.Harrison didn't have to face a teammate to go to State. Nor did she have to face Southeast Kansas League champion Abbi Groff, who also won the Regional. However, she remembers when she played Groff earlier in the season and the lesson a match against her provided.

"After I played Abbi Groff, I kinda woke up and I've been playing a lot better to my capabilities," she says. "And I know there will be people at State who make (playing) her look easier."

The first matches will begin at around 11:30 a.m. Friday morning at the Emporia High School courts. Saturday's play starts at 9 a.m.

NOTES -- The five State qualifiers in 2000 were senior Kara Neimier and junior Mindy Townsend as one doubles team, senior Haley Williams and junior Rachel Large as the other doubles team and junior Bridget Sercer in singles. All three entries went 0-2 in the Class 5A State Tournament at Wichita State University....

Wichita Collegiate is the defending Class 4A champion and also won Class 3-2-1A in 2009 and 2010. Lenexa St. James Academy, last year's runner-up, is in Class 5A this year. McPherson finished third last year....

Defending singles champion Brooke Withrow, a Wichita Collegiate junior, is back with a 28-0 record this season. She was 32-3 last year. Also back is last year's fourth-place finisher, junior Ali Anderson of Hesston (28-3). Withrow defeated Anderson in the 2010 Class 3-2-1A final in thee sets.

Last year's Class 4A third-place finisher was a freshman, Grace Schaffer of St. James, but she did not qualify for this year's tournament....

The defending doubles champion team from McPherson does not return. Kirsten Holle was a senior last season and Moria Pyle, a sophomore last year, did not qualify on either of this year's doubles teams. Last year's runners-up, Grace LeMaster and Jillian Johnson of Collegiate, were both seniors last year.

Collegiate's third-place doubles team from last year is back, although they've only played 12 matches together this season, winning 10. Kelli Dunn and Lindsay Funke were also 2010 3-2-1A champs and the 2009 3-2-1A third-place team.

Last year's fourth-place team, seniors Jamie Myers and Jenna Pelter of Topeka Hayden, are also back. They're 30-2 this season....

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