By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

MAIZE There's many a sport that can be played in the rain, sleet or even snow.

But tennis isn't one of those when it is played outdoors.

Thus, with Mother Nature rearing her ugly head early in the middle of fall, the Class 6A girls state tennis tournament hit a weather hurdle Friday that it could not overcome.

Rain fell throughout the early hours of the day, and by 2 p.m. tournament officials had decided to forego any attempt at getting players onto the courts at Maize South High School for the opening day of the scheduled two-day event.

Play will begin at 10:30 a.m. today with first-round matches. In the mix for the Garden City High School Lady Buffs will be doubles team Claire Schmidt and Shai Cartmill, who enter the tourney with a 29-8 record, coming off a regional tennis title a week ago.

By virtue of their regional championship, Schmidt and Cartmill received the No. 3 overall seed and earned a first-round bye.

They will play the winner of the Rachel Walters/Alyssa Raye (Lawrence Free State) vs. Erin Courington/Alea Surender (Wichita East) opening round match. They will likely get on the court around noon today.

In singles play, it will be senior Jannette Martinez, who placed fourth at the regional meet and comes into the state with a 24-13 record.

Getting final notification from tournament officials early in the afternoon allowed the Lady Buffs some free time, which they took the opportunity to visit one of the nearby malls for a little shopping, and some game-playing as well.

Nothing like a free afternoon on a Friday to take one's mind off the most important sports event of the season for the three players.

"We knew kinda like when we got up, that there was a good chance we weren't gonna get to play," Schmidt said. "When we got there (courts), we were able to hit a little bit, but then we stopped and waited for coach (Rod Robinson)."

Schmidt, a veteran of two previous state tourneys, said the wait is something they just have to deal with.

"We'll figure out what we want to do," Schmidt said, indicating they planned to attend the GCHS-Maize football game Friday night. "It was cold last year, so we'll be alright tomorrow."

For her sophomore doubles partner Cartmill, who is making her debut state appearance, it is all about finding the right mental approach with the delay.

"It's just how it's gonna be, so we'll just tough it out," Cartmill said. "It's been a really good season, and I'm excited to be playing at state. We just have to come back tomorrow and focus on our game. It's all about (hitting) angles and angles so we know each other pretty well."

Martinez is the lone senior and is making her second state appearance, but first in singles. She would have preferred to play Friday, but now will come back today as the No. 12 seed.

She was to face Katie Fries of Blue Valley West in her opening match, which was likely to be in that 10:30 opening time. Maize South has 12 courts in its complex.

"I really had hoped to play today and see how things went," Martinez said. "It would have been tough, but I play pretty well in the cold. But, we'll just get out there and play (today)."

If any of the Lady Buffs advance, the tournament will conclude with Sunday matches starting at 9 a.m.