Tough competition tops Briggs at state tennis
Topeka There was no question Amy Briggs was relaxed and ready to play Friday at the Class 5A state tennis tournament.
The problem, however, was that the Lansing High sophomore was paired against one of the tournament's top singles players, Kelly Gerbert of Wichita Kapaun-Mt. Carmel, in the first round.
Briggs was a pioneer of sorts for a Lansing program that hadn't sent a girl to state in more than 10 years. Gerbert was a doubles state champ in 2006.
Experience ultimately won out in the match. Despite some long volleys and sound tactical tennis, Briggs was outmatched in a 6-0, 6-0 defeat.
"She's really solid, she doesn't make any mistakes and she just places the ball really well," Briggs said of Gerbert. "I wanted to try to do my best in the first match and try to get some games off of her, but it didn't happen."
Briggs later dropped a 6-2, 6-4 decision to Mill Valley freshman Lindsey Buenger in the first round of the consolation bracket. Briggs rallied from a 4-1 deficit to tie the second set at 4-4 before making a number of unforced errors and dropping the final two games.
Briggs finished the season with a 16-7 record, but she admitted she was disappointed not to win a match at state after coming close against Buenger.
Still, LHS coach Rachel Elkins said Briggs had plenty to be proud of just for making it to state.
"I think she kind of set the stage for the capabilities of the tennis team," Elkins said, adding that she expects Briggs to be back at state in the future.
Elkins said this year's appearance will benefit Briggs at state in the future.
"Now she'll know what to expect when she arrives and she'll be better prepared," Elkins said. "I don't think you can develop her mentally, because she's already so mentally tough. It's just setting the stage of where you've got to start. Here you've really got to get out of the gate early and set the stage and get settled.
"But, you know, in tennis you've got to play the higher competition to get to a higher level. She's done that. She's seen the caliber of play. Plus, she goes away knowing she may have left a match out here, so that feeds the fire in Amy Briggs. In that caliber of player that will feed the fire, and that's a good thing."
Kelly Gerbert of Kapaun-Mt. Carmel, Briggs' first-round opponent, placed third overall in singles. Meanwhile, Gerbert's team won the state title with 42 points. St. Thomas Aquinas placed second and McPherson was third.
Mill Valley freshman Lindsey Buenger placed 10th in singles.
Bonner Springs doubles players Chelsea Crouch and Felicia Leipard advanced to Saturday's competition but finished out of the medals.
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