GCHS girls tennis place fifth at McPherson

GCHS Athletics
Garden City High School's Chloe Powell hits a backhand shot during a doubles match in the 2020 GCHS girls tennis invite.

When he looked at the 2021 Garden City High School schedule, Buffs Coach Logan Bevis knew there would be two or three tournaments where the competition would look every bit as tough as a state tournament bracket.

Those are the ones with open draws, where Nos. 1 and 2 singles and doubles are all placed into the same bracket.

Tuesday was one of those days at the eight-team McPherson Doug Gayer Classic.

The Buffs, getting a strong performance from their No. 1 doubles team of Sage Riggs and Sydney Nanninga, who lost a tiebreaker championship match, finished in fifth place with a team total of 38 points. Host McPherson won with 55 points, Goddard Eisenhower second with 47, Salina South third with 43 and Hutchinson fourth with 41 points. Liberal, Hays and Great Bend occupied the sixth, seventh and eighth place spots with 21, 16 and 10 points, respectively.

Riggs and Nanninga, who had just won the Campus Invitational on Monday for their third straight tournament title, reached the championship match with impressive wins over Aracely Jurado and Lesley Hernandez of Liberal, 8-2; an 8-5 win over Hutchinson’s Tia Hines and Libby Jackson and then knocked off the No. 1 seeded team of Patty Huerta and Perrin Schneider of McPherson.

That put them into the finals against Salina South’s No. 2 seed of Tess Daily and Iliana Armbrust, and the match went to a tiebreaker where the South squad prevailed, 8-7 (3). Riggs and Nanninga came in as the No. 4 seed.

“Sage and Sydney had a great day and were a few points away from claiming another title,” Bevis said. “Their win against McPherson’s No. 1 team in the semifinals was by far their highest quality win of the year so far and they played some great tennis in both the semis and finals.”

Riggs, who had played singles the previous two seasons, had opted to be paired with Nanning for doubles at the start of the season and the lineup has remained the same thus far.

“I was impressed by how much the girls have improved since the beginning of the season as a team,” Bevis said of his top doubles team. “It is a credit to how much they have been working on improving doubles techniques and strategies in practice and when they go out to hit on their own.”

The Buffs’ top singles player, Brooke Ptacek, ended the day with a 2-2 record and placed seventh against a group of elite players.

Ptacek defeated Laura Daniel of Great Bend, 8-0; dropped an 8-2 match to Sydney Achilles of McPherson and then lost to Laura Becker of Salina South. She capped off the day with an 8-6 marathon match win against Hays’ Morgan Shorb.

Chloe Powell and Payton Tull managed a 1-3 won-loss mark for the day, but finished in eighth by virtue of getting a well-played opening match 8-5 victory over Hutchinson’s No. 2 doubles team. They then ran into Salina South’s Daily and Armbrust, the eventual champions, and fell 8-2. They followed with setbacks to Ellsworth and another Salina South duo, 8-1.

“While they would have liked to win another match or two, they played well to beat Hutch’s solid No. 2 team in the first round,” Bevis said. “This is a big win for them as the Hutch team will be in contention for a state qualifying berth at our regionals.”

Bevis said his No. 2 doubles squad had continued to improve during the first half of the season.

“I think the win over Hutch will give the girls a boost of confidence and belief moving towards the post-season,” Bevis said. “They played solid tennis in all of their first three matches and just ran into a little fatigue in the last match to come up short.”

Alivia Palmer, playing No. 2 singles, had the toughest day for Bevis, where she opened with an 8-3 loss to McPherson’s Riggs Kuhn, the overall No. 3 seed who eventually finished second. Palmer was up 3-2 before things came unraveled. She suffered an injury in the match, but finished. Bevis opted to default her second match, and by the time her third match was scheduled, she had sufficiently recovered well enough to continue.

Palmer then responded with impressive wins of 8-4 over Kaylin Wahlmeier of Great Bend and 8-1 over Laura Daniel of Great Bend.

“She did an admirable job by being able to finish the day,” Bevis said of Palmer. “The two wins she got later were really solid ones for her.”

The Buffaloes will host their home invitational on Saturday at the GCHS Tennis Complex. First matches are slated to begin at 9 a.m.