By Brent Maycock, KSHSAA Covered
2023 GIRLS TENNIS PREVIEW
2022 State Champion: Shawnee Mission East
2022 State runner-up: Blue Valley North
2022 Singles champion: Kinley VanPelt, Free State
2022 Doubles champion: Bryson Langford/Greta Stechschulte, Shawnee Mission East
2022 Review: Boosted by the history-making duo of Bryson Langford and Greta Stechschulte and their doubles teammates Abigail Long and Katie Schmidt, Shawnee Mission East captured its fourth straight Class 6A state championship. The Lancers scored 46 points to edge runner-up Blue Valley North by nine points. Langford and Stechschulte became the first doubles team in Kansas history to complete the career sweep, adding their fourth state title with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Long and Schmidt in the finals – the third straight year those East duos have finished 1-2. Langford and Stechschulte posted a 25-0 record as seniors – their second undefeated season overall – and for their careers finished with a 99-4 record. Free State sophomore Kinley VanPelt also found perfection in capturing her first singles championship. After missing her freshman season with an injury, VanPelt took Class 6A singles by storm in 2022 and bested a field that included the top three finishers from the 2021 state tournament. VanPelt whipped Olathe Northwest’s Ella Novion 6-0, 6-1 in the semifinals before topping Blue Valley Northwest’s Emily Chiasson 6-4, 6-1 in the finals to cap a 29-0 season. Chiasson finished runner-up for the second straight year, avenging her 2021 finals loss with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Manhattan’s Jillian Harkin in the semifinals to deny the Indian standout a repeat. East also got top-eight singles finishes from Ishya Bhavsar (sixth) and Katie Murphy (eighth). Runner-up for the third straight year after winning five straight titles from 2015-19, Blue Valley North had all of its state entries place in the top nine, led by a third-place finish from Emma Razi and Nancy DiPalo in doubles and a fifth in singles from Shelby Smith. Olathe Northwest posted a third-place team finish led by a fourth in singles from Novion and fourth in doubles from Hannah Carney and Riley Terhune. Free State nipped Blue Valley Northwest by a point for fourth.
2023 Contenders: Even with the graduation of four-time doubles champions Bryson Langford and Greta Stechschulte, Shawnee Mission East will enter the 2023 season as the favorite to extend their state-title streak to five straight crowns. The Lancers return the rest of their state contingent from a year ago with Abigail Long and Katie Schmidt looking to assume the doubles throne from their departed teammates after losing in the state finals to them each of the past three seasons. All three of their losses a year ago in a 26-3 season came to Langford and Stechschulte. Ishya Bhavsar and Katie Murphy return in singles play after taking sixth and eighth at state, respectively. East is loaded with depth to capably fill the doubles opening with a state-tourney caliber tandem. Blue Valley North has finished first or second as a team for each of the last eight seasons and expectations are for the Mustangs to once again push East for the title. North has significantly more holes to fill than the Lancers do, graduating four of the six players who competed at state a year ago. Junior Shelby Smith returns to lead the Mustangs after taking fifth in singles play a year ago. She’s on the short list of challengers for the crown this year along with returning state champion Kinley VanPelt of Free State and fourth-place finisher Ella Novion of Olathe Northwest. VanPelt went 29-0 in winning her first state singles title last year and will be the heavy favorite for the title again this season. North also returns Nancy DiPalo from last year’s third-place doubles team though she’ll be breaking in a new partner this year with last year’s partner Emma Razi among the Mustangs’ graduation losses. Like East, North has the depth to stay in the hunt though holding off Olathe Northwest as the top challenger to East will be a chore for the Mustangs. The Ravens were third as a team a year ago and return four of last year’s six state qualifiers. In addition to Novion, Camryn Medina returns after qualifying in singles last year while the doubles team of Hannah Carney and Riley Terhune are back after taking fourth at state. Free State also could make a push for a team trophy this season after taking fourth last year. While VanPelt will carry the torch for the Firebirds, she’s got plenty of help back from a year ago. Maya Lee finished seventh in singles at state while the doubles team of Zoe Cachiguango-Latta and Camille Lee also return as qualifiers. Blue Valley Northwest was fifth as a team last year but returns only Saraphina Wambi from last year’s state squad, a fifth-place doubles finisher with departed teammate Lydia Peng.
2022 State Champion: Andover
2022 State runner-up: Andover Central
2022 Singles champion: Brynn Steven, Bishop Carroll
2022 Doubles champion: Maya Chon/Bryer Geoffrey, Andover Central
2022 Review: Andover and Andover Central played out their district and cross-town rivalry on the state level with the Trojans using their overall depth to overcome Central’s doubles dominance and take the team title by seven points. Central ruled the doubles draw with the tandem of Maya Chon and Bryer Geoffrey moving up from a runner-up finish in 2021 to a state championship last fall. The Jaguar duo had finished just fourth at regionals behind a pair of Andover teams and teammates Grace Schaefer and McKinnley Evans, but found their groove at state and returned to the finals where they avenged the regional loss to Schaefer and Evans with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win in the state championship match. The 1-2 doubles finish accounted for all of the Jaguars points, however, as Central didn’t qualify a singles entry for state. Andover, meanwhile, qualified its entire team and saw each entry pick up points to help the Trojans repeat as 5A state champions. The doubles team of Anna Jittawait and Brooke Walker led the way, taking third after falling to Evans and Schaefer in the semifinals. Teammates Hannah Pappademos and Nadia Kaewsai were regional champions, but got knocked off in the quarterfinals by Newton’s Natalie Hershberger and Giulia Introini. They rebounded to finish fifth. In singles play, Andover got a fourth from Mia Jaramillo and 11th from Molly Gaddis and that was enough to propel the Trojans to the state title. Salina Central finished third, led by a third-place singles finish from Janae Montoya and top-nine showings from both doubles teams. Bishop Carroll’s Brynn Steven, runner-up in singles in 2021, took the next step and captured her first state title. Steven outlasted Montoya 6-4, 7-5 in the semifinals and then rallied after losing the first set of the championship match to Seaman’s Lauren Sweeney 6-4. Steven pulled out a 6-4 win in the second set and then stormed to a 6-0 win in the decisive set to cap a 25-2 season with the singles title. Carroll finished fourth as a team, just a point behind Salina Central for third, and two points ahead of Seaman, with Logan Jagolinzer adding a fifth in singles for the Golden Eagles.
2023 Contenders: Working on a streak of two consecutive state titles, it’s hard to see anyone denying Andover its bid for a three-peat. The Trojans return their entire state team from a year ago. Seniors Anna Jittawait and Brooke Walker enter the season as arguably the favorites in doubles this year, but only slightly ahead of teammates Hannah Pappademos and Nadia Kaewsai, who beat them in the regional finals a year ago. They very well could duplicate Andover Central’s 1-2 doubles finish from a year ago with no other doubles teams in the top six a year ago returning intact. What’s more, the Trojans return both singles placers from a year ago as well in Mia Jaramillo (fourth) and Molly Gaddis (11th). The singles draw will be stacked this year, but both underclassmen should factor into the mix. Last year’s runner-up, Andover Central, leaned entirely on its doubles teams at state with the Jaguars going 1-2 and getting a championship from Maya Chon and Bryer Geoffrey. Chon has graduated and Geoffrey may focus on different sports this season, according to coach Janet Glaser. The Jaguars also graduated the runner-up doubles team of Grace Schaefer and McKinnley Evans, leaving plenty of holes to fill if they are going to try to challenge rival Andover again. Salina Central narrowly edged Bishop Carroll for third a year ago and both could fill the role of Andover’s top challenger this year. Carroll returns singles champion Brynn Steven, who also finished runner-up in 2021. Teammate Logan Jagolinzer had a solid freshman season a year ago, finishing fifth in singles. Adding a complement in the doubles draw would be huge for the Golden Eagles, who didn’t qualify one for state last year. Salina Central, meanwhile, returns its entire state squad from a year ago when the Mustangs got their whole team there. Janae Montoya took third in singles last year, losing a tough semifinal to Steven. The doubles team of Claire Renfro and Kinsley Foth took seventh at state as sophomore last year while Renfro’s triplet sisters Addison and Mallory Renfro added a ninth in doubles play. Fellow junior Katelyn Rupe, one of the state’s top cross country runners, split time between the two sports last year and qualified for state with a 23-9 mark to complement Montoya, who lost only twice last season. The Mustangs very well could be best positioned to make a run at Andover if Rupe opts for double duty again this year and finds her way to a medal after coming up one win short last fall. Blue Valley Southwest’s Jensen Gibbs, Emporia’s Kali Keough and Maize’s Rylee Frye were state placers in singles last year who return with Gibbs also having a solid doubles duo returning as well in Charlotte Hartweger and Madison Lybarger. Seaman took fifth last year as a team led by singles runner-up Lauren Sweeney. She has graduated, but the Vikings return the doubles team of Katie Krummins and Molly Gorman and doubles qualifier Kate Eckert.
2022 State Champion: Hayden
2022 State runner-up: Independence
2022 Singles champion: Ainzley Zulueta, Hayden
2022 Doubles champion: Lauren Sandstrom/Emily Sheetz, Hayden
2022 Review: For all of its rich tennis history, Hayden added a piece that had been lacking a year ago when the Wildcats made it a clean sweep of the titles at the Class 4A state meet. Getting a singles championship from sophomore Ainzley Zulueta, her second straight, a doubles crown from Lauren Sandstrom and Emily Sheetz, and top-12 finishes from each state entry, Hayden scored 40 points to beat runner-up Independence by nine points for the team title as well. The crown was the first for the girls’ program. Zulueta made it two-for-two for singles titles in her career, coming back from an early deficit to Chapman’s Elyssa Frieze in the title match to take a 6-2, 6-3 victory. Sandstrom and Sheetz, meanwhile, improved from a seventh-place finish in doubles in 2021 to take their first state title, beating Wichita Trinity Academy’s Sophia Majors and Darcy Dunne 6-3, 6-3 in the finals. Zulueta finished with a 28-2 record, while Sandstrom and Sheetz ended the season 34-4. Hayden also got a 10th from Grace Funk in singles and a 12th from the doubles team of Sloane Sims and Briahna Barnett. Independence placed three of its four state entries in taking second as a team. The Bulldogs were led by fourth-place finishes from Abby Veile in singles and the doubles team of Callie Schlorholtz and Brooklyn Mattix. Led by Dunne and Majors, Trinity Academy finished third as a team, also getting a third from Isabella Sebits in singles play. McPherson’s sister act of Brodie and Riggs Kuhn took third in doubles, leading the Bullpups to a fourth-place team finish, just ahead of Buhler, Wellington, Chapman and Colby.
2023 Contenders: After claiming the first team state championship in girls’ program history, Hayden seemed to be poised to make it a repeat this fall, returning three-fourths of last year’s state contingent. But junior Ainzley Zulueta, who was halfway to becoming the second Hayden player to win four state singles crowns (Brooklyn Hunter accomplished the feat nearly a decade ago), spent the spring attending a tennis academy in Texas and won’t be eligible for the fall season. Zulueta only dropped 11 games at state a year ago with five of those coming in a 6-2, 6-3 finals win over Chapman’s Elyssa Frieze, who returns this season as arguably the favorite for the singles title. Frieze is now the lone semifinalst from a year ago back this season with graduation claiming the other two semifinalists, Wichita Trinity Academy’s Isabella Sebits and Independence’s Abby Veile. Hayden’s quest for another team championship starts with the return of state champion doubles team of Lauren Sandstrom and Emily Sheetz, who went 34-4 last year. The duo would love to send Sandstrom, a senior, out with another state title. Hayden also returns sophomore Grace Funk, who placed 10th in singles, but must replace the 12th-place doubles team of Sloane Sims and Briahna Barnett in addition to Zulueta. Runner-up a year ago, Independence has the depth to potentially chase down the Wildcats and win its first state title since 2014. The Bulldogs lost only Veile off last year’s state team with junior Ava Morris ready to take over the No. 1 singles spot after taking eighth at state last year and winning 27 matches last year. The doubles team of Callie Schlorholtz and Brooklyn Mattix finished fourth at state last year, while twin sister tandem of Ellie and Hannah Kippenberger also qualified for state and won 25 matches. If the Bulldogs can fill Veile’s void, they’ll push Hayden to the limit. Third a year ago, Trinity Academy will have a hard time replacing Isabella Sebits, the 2020 state champion who finished third last season. The Knights also lost Darcy Dunne off last year’s state runner-up doubles team and returning senior Sophia Majors will either shift to singles or perhaps pull a new partner from the doubles team of Haley Green and Madeline Davis, who qualified for state but went 0-2. McPherson has a strong front-running duo in Brodie and Riggs Kuhn, who finished third last year and will challenge Sandstrom and Sheetz for the title this year. The Bullpups qualified their whole team a year ago and return intact this year as they look to jump into the hunt for the team title this year. Singles players Maryn and Kyndall Sandbo each won a match at state last year with Kyndall finishing 12th. Chapman’s Elyssa Frieze has improved her state finish each season and the only way to do that this year is to win it all. She led Zulueta 2-0 in the finals last year before Zulueta took control of the match. Colby’s Hayden Bellamy finished fifth in singles last year, and lost just twice in a 36-2 season – one a 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) loss to Frieze in the quarterfinals. Wellington was sixth last year and could have a doubles challenger in Lyric Cornejo and Kadynce Aufedengarten after both placed in the top 11 last year with different partners.
2022 State Champion: Wichita Collegiate
2022 State runner-up: Marysville
2022 Singles champion: Emma Mantovani, Wichita Collegiate
2022 Doubles champion: Laney Conrad/Julia Herrman, Wichita Collegiate
2022 Review: The question wasn’t if, but by how much would Wichita Collegiate win a second straight Class 3-2-1A state title and 14th straight overall. Particularly after the Spartans finished 1-2 in both singles and doubles at their regional meet. The answer proved to be a margin of a whopping 30 points as Collegiate swept the singles and doubles titles, going 1-2 in the latter, and scored 55 points to more than double up runner-up Marysville. Senior Emma Mantovani claimed her third state singles championship, second straight in Class 3-2-1A, with a 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 win over Sacred Heart’s Katie Weiss in the finals. Mantovani finished her career with four top-two finishes, her lone state runner-up showing in 2020 in Class 4A a year after she won a 4A title as a freshman. The doubles team of Laney Conrad and Julia Herrman, meanwhile, knocked off teammates Kinsey Nichols and Tatum Bhargava for the doubles state title, reversing positions from regionals. Conrad and Herrman took a 6-1, 6-4 win in the finals. Collegiate also got a sixth from freshman Lara De Carvalho in singles play after De Carvalho had won the regional title over Mantovani, but was upset in the quarterfinals by Weiss. Marysville placed three of its four state entries in finishing a distant runner-up. Shea Kramer took fifth in singles to lead the Bulldogs. Smoky Valley edged Sterling by three points for the third-place trophy, led by a fifth from the doubles team of Campbell Gaskill and Karee Adam. Sterling’s showing was led by a third from the doubles team of Kate Rowland and Karissa Wilson. Weiss’s runner-up singles finish led Sacred Heart to a fifth-place team finish while Central Plains and Conway Springs tied for sixth.
2023 Contenders: About the only thing that ever changes in recent history for the Wichita Collegiate tennis program is which classification the Spartans will bring home the state championship in. Last year’s crown was the 14th straight for Collegiate with the last season the Spartans didn’t bring home the top trophy coming in 2008. Collegiate started its streak in 2009 with the first of two straight 3-2-1A crowns, moved up to 4A for back-to-back crowns in 2011-12, returned to 3-2-1A for consecutive titles in 2013-14, and then won six straight 4A titles from 2015-20 before its current string of two straight 3-2-1A crowns. While a move to 4A could put their title streak in jeopardy with defending champ Hayden loaded again, staying in 3A will keep the Spartans a heavy favorite. Losing three-time state champion Emma Mantovani is a big blow for the Spartans, but the biggest loss was from the Collegiate sidelines where longtime coach Dave Hawley has retired after a legendary career where he recorded the most state titles of any coach in any sport in state history with 59, 33 of those from his girls’ program. Easing the blow of those big losses is the return of state doubles champions Laney Conrad and Julia Herrman, who went 22-5 a year ago and beat teammates Kinsey Nichols and Tatum Bhargava in the finals. Nichols and Barghava have also graduated, but Collegiate’s depth is second to none in the smaller classes. The Spartans also return sophomore singles player Lara De Carvalho, who took fifth at state after winning a regional title over Mantovani. Hawley’s replacement, Simon Norman, has enjoyed plenty of past success. Prior to serving as Hawley’s assistant last season, Norman led Wichita Independent to six Class 3-2-1A girls titles and two boys titles. If not for Collegiate, Marysville would be the heavy favorite to take over the throne. The Bulldogs qualified their entire team for state a year ago and return that entire bunch. Senior Shea Kramer is set to challenge for the singles title this year after dropping a three-set decision to Mantovani in the quarterfinals before bouncing back to take fifth. The doubles team of Grace Winkler and Kadence Spurgeon finished seventh and teammates Rose Latta and Aubree Vering were eighth, leaving sophomore Ava Spicer as the lone Bulldog qualifier not to place last year. Kramer will have some serious competition in the singles draw, and not just from De Carvalho. Sacred Heart’s Katie Weiss is back after a runner-up finisher a year ago. She was a state doubles runner-up in 2020 before making the move to singles last fall. Weiss also pushed Mantovani to three sets at state a year ago in the finals. Larned’s Abby Holt took fourth in singles last year, while Conway Springs’ Haylee Osner was eighth. Osborne’s Gracie and Leavie Riner return after taking sixth in doubles last year, the top returning duo intact after Collegiate’s Conrad and Herrman. Third as a team a year ago, Smoky Valley only returns the doubles team of Lily Heline and Kayla Norberg while Sterling, fourth last year, returns only sophomore singles qualifier Chelsie Brown. Hesston tied for eighth last year but returns two doubles qualifiers in Kori Kramer, who placed fifth with departed partner Cassie Albin, and Jaiden Callahan and singles qualifier Molly Martin.