LHS tennis third at De Soto
De Soto Rachel Elkins has had just three tournaments to work with her varsity squad, but the first-year Lansing High tennis coach said the Lions already have made drastic improvements.
No longer are they just hopeful when they go to tournaments. They expect to win - and they're getting close.
Elkins got her best view yet of her Lions on Saturday at the Wildcat Invitational at De Soto High School when they placed third in the team standings with 26 points. De Soto won the title with 45 points and Gardner-Edgerton placed second after winning a tiebreaker with LHS.
Not only was the competition level high on Saturday, but the tournament ran in the same format as the high school regional and state tournament where players are seeded by record in 16-player brackets.
"I think having the girls go into a new tournament format, with a bracket and seeding like at regionals, it was good for them to get used to that," Elkins said.
The Lions held their own in the new format. Junior Kersten Probst posted a 3-2 record and placed sixth in singles. Junior Abby Hauver - who was called up to the varsity squad about an hour before the tournament began - went 1-3 in her first tournament and placed eighth in singles. One of her losses came to De Soto's Alex Prosser, one of the top players in the state. Hauver's victory came in one of the most thrilling of the matches of the day when she and Leavenworth's Christina Edwards in a match that went back and forth until the end when Hauver won 9-8 (7-5) in a tiebreaker.
"I thought Abby Hauver had a really good showing," Elkins said. "She was a last-minute entry. She accepts things as a challenge, goes out there and plays her game. I'm pleased with how her ground strokes, from day one of practice to now, how they've improved. How she plays smart matches and is comfortable with her game."
In doubles, Bethanie Hill and Lindsay Parks went 2-2 on the day and placed fourth in doubles. Rachel Darrow and Jaclyn Gann posted a 4-1 record and placed fifth in doubles.
"The doubles teams are starting to really develop some chemistry and they're starting to click," Elkins said.
Elkins said that, across the board, her players all were making great improvements very quickly.
"I think we're getting a little more confident with our ground strokes," Elkins said. "We're trusting things, so we're playing through points. We're not thinking too much about our technical strokes. We're not looking at tactics and where to put the ball. With the last two outings, that's settling into the girls and they're trusting their strokes and focusing on where to place the next shot. That's a good thing."
The Lions next play at 4 p.m. Monday in a dual against Kansas City Christian at Harmon Park. Then they'll play at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in a dual at Perry-Lecompton.