De Soto league champs … sort of
The Frontier League tennis championship tournament does not exist. The De Soto tennis team won't receive a trophy -- not even a plaque.
Most of the teams in the league don't even have a team, but another stellar day of action left De Soto standing atop the four schools that do, and as far as the Wildcats are concerned, that makes them the unofficial and unapologetic league champs.
"We had a great day. It's too bad we can't claim a league championship," De Soto coach Michael Sullivan said. "All the teams there knew it was a league representation, so it's nice to come out and win."
If any real league did exist, De Soto would be hands down the team to beat. The Cats swept their way through the competition without losing a match. De Soto's six players beat all comers from Baldwin, Spring Hill and Gardner Edgerton.
Playing with a modified lineup, the Cats had little trouble. Hana Lindbloom broke from her usual doubles partner Rebekah Gulley to play No. 1 singles, and lost only three games, winning each of her three matches 8-1.
Gulley, playing No. 2 singles, was equally dominating. She lost just five games, beating Baldwin's Holly Ralston 8-3, a Gardner player 8-1 and Spring Hill's Valerie Grigoryeva 8-0.
"We just wanted to switch things up," Sullivan said. "Hana played great at the No. 1 singles spot. Rebekah played really well, too. They really dominated from the two singles spots."
The Cats two doubles teams didn't have quite as easy of a time with things, but still made it through the quadrangular without a loss.
Hannah Konetzni and Suzie Gulley began the year playing singles and will likely return for the near future, but they shined playing together in No. 1 Doubles.
The pair won 8-4, 8-3 and 8-1. Sullivan said the pair will likely split for a pair of tough competitions over the next week, but they could reunite for an attempt at state. Konetzni qualified in doubles a year ago and has expressed interest in staying doubled up, but it's not a done deal either way.
"I wanted to give them a chance to play some of the better doubles teams," Sullivan said. "I have to take the opportunity for the most girls to qualify (for state) and for us to get the highest finish. If that ends up being by having two really strong doubles team, then that'll be something I'll have to decide."
The team's No. 2 doubles had the most competitive matches, but Megan Paulsen and Laura Scott ensured the Cats would emerge unscathed. They won two matches by a score of 8-4, and secured a win over Gardner with a tiebreak, winning 8-7.
"Everyone's really excited they all got the gold medals," Sullivan said.
It was more of the same Thursday when the Cats matched up with Mill Valley. De Soto won the dual 8-1 to preserve a six-year winning streak of the intra-district rivals. Paulsen held off Mill Valley's Shelly Beck in a tiebreaker while Scott fell 8-6 in singles play to Nicole Tepper.
It's all amounted to a bright week for the De Soto tennis squad, and Sullivan said the team will need all the confidence it can muster over the next several competitions.
De Soto will first confront Olathe Northwest Thursday, then travels to Marysville for a large tournament Saturday morning.
Sullivan said the toughest test will come Wednesday when the squad travels to Baldwin for an all-day tournament that could include many of the state's best.
"You're looking at three of the top four (Kansas singles players)," Sullivan said. "That will be one of the best competitions of the year."