Prior to the Class 4A State Tennis Tournament, McPherson High coach Tyler Brown said his team was hoping for a Top 3 finish and it would still feel good if it finished in the Top 5.
MHS didn’t meet either of those goals, but when Brown saw the strength of the state tournament up close and personal, he had no displeasure with a seventh-place finish.
In fact, he was downright excited.
“We had a fantastic year,” Brown said. “We finished the state tournament with a team finish of seventh. I know our goal was to take home some hardware (for a Top 3), but I did know that we had one of the deepest classifications this year. Second and third (place) was decided by 1.4% of winning percentage of their players and fourth missed them by only 1 point and that 5th - 7th was all within 4 points of each other. It really was one of the closest state tournaments I have been a part of.”
MHS’ doubles team of Maisie Edmonson and Taylor Bruce were powerful on Friday to make Saturday’s semifinals, losing to the eventual state champions from Wichita Collegiate.
“Maisie and Taylor played an outstanding quarterfinal against Independence to reach the semifinals right where I assumed they would be,” Brown said. “But from semifinals on, I knew with the teams that were left they would have to play some awesome tennis. They ran into Collegiate, which ended up being the 4A state champs, which played extremely well against us. When a team plays that well sometimes all you can do is congratulate them. In the third-place match I felt like it was one we could of won, but we didn't play our best tennis and Wellington raised their game on the right points to get us in straight sets, but each set being extremely close.”
It was the swan song for Edmonson, who last year was seventh in the state in singles, while Bruce has two more years left.
MHS’ other doubles team of senior Cheyann Williams and junior Ashley Achilles went out on Friday, but Brown was excited they were able to be part of the process.
“Ashley and Cheyann had an extremely tough draw,” Brown said. “They opened the tournament with Indy's No. 1 team and then had to go backside and play Circle’s No. 1 team, which they played extremely well, but just ran out of gas late in that match to get nipped 9-7.
In singles, Brown was thrilled with the play of freshman CeAnna Allen, who brought home a 10th-place medal and had to defeat teammate Rachel Carlson in an elimination match. Carlson, a sophomore, was hoping to medal for the second year in a row.
“The draw on the singles side was not in our favor,” Brown said. “CeAnna and Rachel lost their first match so were fed into the backside of the bracket where they ended up having to play each other so we ended up knocking ourselves out, which was truly unfortunate since the teams that all finished in front of us all had 3 fields scoring points for them. Rachel being a medalist last year probably had the best chance of being our third field scoring points for us.”
Allen signaled that she may be a player to watch as she still has three years left.
“CeAnna Allen, I was impressed maybe the most with being the only freshman in the 4A state tournament on the singles side and being able to finish 10th,” he said. “That alone pretty much sums up her tourney. Very impressive.”
In addition to Edmonson and Williams, Madison Schmidt also graduates. But with Bruce, Carlson and Allen back, some JV players waiting for a chance to play at the varsity and a large group of talented freshmen coming up that didn't lose a meet this year, the Bullpups' state success should continue for years to come. The freshmen coming up will certainly improve the team's depth and make for terrific competition in practice.