The Lady Lancer tennis swept the competition at the Shawnee Mission District Tennis Tournament last Saturday. The team secured 37 wins out of 40 possible matches. The girls competed against other Shawnee Mission high schools in a round-robin-style meet. Each team sent five players for singles and five teams for doubles.
Head coach Sue Chipman finished the day with a positive attitude. The only three losses for the teams occurred at in first singles bracket, the second singles bracket and the first doubles bracket.
Teams from the tournament were not the biggest competition for East, according to Chipman. Most of East’s difficult opponents come from Blue Valley, such as Blue Valley North.
The general lower skill level allowed East players to analyze their game during their four tournament matches. However, a few opponents were able to overtake the Lancers, such as singles players Katherine Cao and Josephine Cao from Shawnee Mission West and doubles partners Lexy Drummond and Colleen Freeman from Shawnee Mission Northwest.
East’s top doubles team, comprised of junior Joie Freirich and freshman Lucy Kendall lost in a tiebreaker at 7-7 to SMNW. The tiebreaker ended 5-7 for the Lancers, a close defeat. Freirich and Kendall forfeited a lead of six games to one. According to Freirich, they became too comfortable in their position.
“We started missing cross court returns and they were poaching more,” Freirich said. ‘We can’t let the score affect how we play.”
Coach Chipman believes that with more practice, Freirich and Kendall can come back stronger if they see the team again.
“We were close,” Chipman said. “We need to work on getting to the net to end the point quickly.”
Sophomore Sarah Wilcox played the number one singles spot. She ended the day with a record of 3-1. Her first match against SMW was her only loss. Wilcox felt unprepared for the early morning match.
Wilcox said she needs to be more mentally prepared for future matches. She also discovered that she needs to work on taking advantage of short balls to put her opponents in more defensive positions.
Like Freirich and Kendall, Wilcox will work on continuing her aggressiveness throughout the duration of the match. Over the summer, Wilcox made a shift in her game. Her original strategy included consistent shots with less speed usually hit from the baseline; now she is working towards a more aggressive style.
“I have been starting to hit harder, controlling the points,” said Wilcox. “But it’s been hard because I miss more [shots] playing this new way.”
Wilcox has relied heavily on her backhands throughout the season. In a recent match against Chloe Kuckelman from Blue Valley North, Wilcox tensed as Kuckelman began winning games. Her swing speed slowed and and she couldn’t hit defensive balls deep enough. Her attacking balls began to go long because she was out of position or couldn’t finish her swing.
“I had lost a lot of confidence over the summer,” said Wilcox. “And I have finally started to gain it back, but I still struggle with [confidence].”
With new focuses for the season in mind, East will take on Barstow Academy on Thursday. A second place finish to BVN yesterday in the St. Thomas Aquinas tournament leaves the team with a point to prove in the coming weeks.