REGIONAL CHAMPS GCHS girls tennis wins 6A regional
Entire Buffalo team heads to state
DODGE CITY - For the second time in three seasons, the Garden City High School girls’ tennis team will send its entire roster to the Class 6A state tournament.
The Buffs accomplished that goal on Saturday at Dodge City by claiming the regional team championship with 20 points to outdistance defending regional team champ Hutchinson’s 16 points. Dodge City and Campus tied for third with 7 points each.
In advancing both singles players and both doubles teams, the Buffs saw No. 1 seed Sage Riggs and Sydney Nanninga sweep their four matches en route to a regional doubles title, the No. 2 doubles team of Payton Tull and Chloe Powell took fourth (injury default in the 3rd place match).
Brooke Ptacek and Alivia Palmer finished third and fourth in singles, respectively, having both lost semifinal matches before meeting each other in the consolation match with Ptacek winning 6-2, 6-0.
The top six finishers in each singles and doubles qualify for the Oct. 15-16 state meet at Wichita’s Riverside Tennis Complex.
“Winning a regional title was one of the team’s main goals coming into the year, along with qualifying everyone for state,” GCHS Head Coach Logan Bevis said. “We accomplished both of those goals today and I’m incredibly proud of the girls’ effort. Today was a strange day in many ways and they did a great job overcoming the twists and turns the day threw at them.”
Riggs and Nanninga continued their impressive season run, improving their overall record to 28-4 (started the season 2-3) by sweeping every match in straight sets.
Riggs, a senior who switched from two years of single play, and Nanninga, a junior, knocked off Wichita West’s Ty’Airra Hardwell and Kennedy Khamzongsa in 6-0, 6-0 fashion; defeated Annicka Hernandez and Cait Pfaff of Dodge City (6-3, 6-0) before facing teammates Tull and Powell in the semifinals where it was a 6-4, 6-2 battle between the Buffs’ squads. In the championship match, Riggs and Nanninga battled Dodge City’s Becca Unruh and America Gamez to a 6-3, 6-2 decision.
“Sydney and Sage took care of business in the early rounds,” Bevis said. “The semifinal match against their teammates was marred by injuries to both Sydney, Sage, and Payton. Sydney and Sage ended up having several hours to rest after the match because of Dodge City’s marathon quarterfinal and semi-final wins. So while they certainly weren’t at 100 percent for the finals, they did a great job of managing their physical issues to come out on top. These two have been so successful throughout the year and I know winning regionals meant a ton to them. I’m really excited to get to work preparing for state this week and seeing what they can do.”
Bevis was especially pleased with his No. 2 doubles team in Tull and Powell, who won early matches against Joanna Nunez and Emily Morales of Wichita South (6-2, 6-4) and Makenzie Suppes and Lauren Davis of Hutchinson (6-2, 6-4) before battling Nanninga and Riggs.
“Payton and Chloe had a great win in the quarterfinals defeating Hutchinson’s No. 2 team 6-2, 6-4 in what is probably the most complete match they’ve played all year,” Bevis said. “I was impressed by their consistent patience at the baseline and aggressiveness at the net throughout the match, and so much of their development as doubles players showed up in this match, as well as the semifinal.”
Injuries to three of his four players dampened the overall enthusiasm for the final matches of the day.
“The injuries to Payton, Sage, and Sydney derailed what had been a good start to the semifinal, but they were also playing well early on in that match,” Bevis said. “The nature of Payton’s injury led us to have them default the third place match. They played awesome today and hopefully both will be healthy and ready to go for state next week.”
Ptacek had the toughest road in qualifying, starting off with a 6-1, 6-2 dominating win over Michael Mink of Dodge City. That put her in the quarterfinals against Katy Classen of Liberal and the two Western Athletic Conference foes went into marathon mode in a two-plus hour match. Ptacek lost the opening set 2-6 and was down 0-3 in the second before rallying for a 7-5 victory. That put them into a super tie-breaker (first to 10 points, win by 2 points) where she fell behind again, barely hanging on in a 6-9 deficit. Ptacek fended off three match points before putting on a 5-point blitz against Classen to win 11-9.
“Brooke was having a really tough time getting into a rhythm, but I am extremely proud of the way that she battled back in the match,” Bevis said of Ptacek. “Despite this long and physically grueling match, Brooke turned around and gave the No. 1 seed (Gracie Foster of Hutchinson) her most competitive match of the day (falling 2-6, 4-6). I was proud of the grit she showed in those two matches.”
In the third-place match against her teammate, Ptacek swept past Palmer 6-2, 6-0.
Palmer, meanwhile, also had a strong performance by defeating Adriana Tucker of Wichita South in a 6-0, 6-0 rout and then knocked off Hutch’s No. 2, Darby Benson, 7-5, 6-2. In her semifinal match against Alayna Alvarez of Wichita Northwest, Palmer came up short in a 2-6, 1-6 decision.
“Alivia had a giant win over Hutchinson’s Benson in the quarterfinals, both guaranteeing her a spot in state and playing a key role in our team win,” Bevis said. “She executed the game plan perfectly and played an intelligent style of tennis that disrupted her opponent’s rhythm and forced her out of her comfort zone. I thought Alivia’s ability to adapt and change throughout the match was impressive and I was happy with the way she played.”