Buffalo girls’ tennis perfect at WAC tourney

GCHS Athletics
Garden City High School's Sage Riggs hits a backhand shot down the line during a doubles match in September at the GCHS girls tennis invite. Riggs was named the 2021 Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year Monday.

Buffs claim sixth straight team title

It was a dominating performance on Monday for the Garden City High School girls’ tennis team.

The Buffs swept all four divisions, going 4-0 in the round-robin Western Athletic Conference tournament at the Fort Hays State University tennis complex in Hays.

In the process, Coach Logan Bevis was named WAC Coach of the Year for the second straight season, senior Sage Riggs won her second consecutive WAC Player of the Year award and the team posted an impressive 16-0 record for the day.

Also, the Buffs claimed their sixth consecutive WAC team championship with a perfect 16 points while Dodge City took second with seven points. Hays and Liberal shared third with six points each while Great Bend took fifth with five points.

The Buffs competed on Tuesday in a rescheduled Hutchinson Invitational to finish out the regular season. They will compete Saturday in the Class 6A regional tournament, to be played in Dodge City. Competing teams include Haysville-Campus, Hutchinson, Liberal, Wichita-Northwest, Wichita-South and Wichita-West.

Qualifiers from the regional will advance to the 6A state tournament on Oct. 15-16 at the Riverside Tennis Complex in Wichita.

The dominant performance Monday left Bevis with a lot of smiles.

“I’m really proud of the effort all the girls have put in this season and was happy to see it pay off today,” Bevis said afterward.

Junior Brooke Ptacek claimed the No. 1 singles title with wins over Morgan Shorb of Hays (8-4), Laura Daniel of Great Bend (8-2), Andrea Morales of Dodge City (8-0) and Katie Classen of Liberal (8-0). Thus, she won 32 games against only 6 losses.

“I was impressed by her steady level of play throughout the day,” Bevis said of Ptacek. “Many teams put their strongest player in No. 1 singles, so it is often the deepest and most challenging field. Although a couple of her matches were close, she was in control of all the matches she played. This is one of the most consistent days Brooke has had so far this year, and I think it should feed in well to regionals this weekend.”

Alivia Palmer also posted a 4-0 record in claiming the No. 2 singles crown. She defeated Hays’ Brittnee Leiker (8-3), Great Bend’s Kaylia Wahlmeier (8-5), Michaela Mink of Dodge City (8-0) and Liberal’s Jaciana Rivera (8-0).

“Alivia played solid tennis throughout the day,” Bevis said. “She had several competitive matches, but overall I’m proud of her development throughout the season.”

For Riggs, the doubles triumph with Sydney Nanninga capped off a stellar four-year career in the WAC, where she was a No. 1 doubles champion as a freshman, No. 2 singles champion as a sophomore, a No. 1 singles champion and WAC POY as a junior and then teamed with Nanninga to claim the top spot in No. 1 doubles in her final regular-season tournament.

“It can be tough to be the big favorites coming into a tournament like this, but even though they had some tough moments throughout the day, they did an excellent job of fending off the pressure and executing in big moments,” Bevis said of his top doubles team. “I’m proud of both girls and thrilled that Sage was given the POY honor again. She has meant so much to our program as a player and as a silent leader for our team. She deserves all the merits she gets Sydney has done a great job as well this year, and it’s been great to see them enjoy the ride together.”

Riggs and Nanninga dispatched the Hays team of Caroline Robben and Sage Zweifel (8-0) and Great Bend’s Taylor Lashley and Samantha Mayers (8-0) before running into their toughest match of the day against Dodge City’s America Gamez and Becca Unruh. In that match, leading just 5-4 in the 8-game format, Riggs and Nanninga claimed the final three games to win. They capped it off with an 8-2 triumph over Lesley Hernandez and Aracely Jurado of Liberal.

Payton Tull and Chloe Powell concluded the perfect day for the Lady Buffs with their 4-0 record in No. 2 doubles. The owned victories over Mallory Henderson/Jersey Johnson of Hays (8-6), Tania Molina/Sahara Rima of Great Bend (8-5), Annika Hernandez/Cait Pfaff of Dodge City (8-4) and Shiya Bhakta/Lanee Harp of Liberal (8-2).

“It was a competitive No. 2 doubles field,” Bevis said of Tull and Powell’s tough match results. “They won several close matches to take the title. They were pushed throughout their first two matches against and Hays and Liberal, but kept their poise to win those. I think their poise in big moments has been one of their greatest areas of improvement this season.”