Home tournament awaits battle-tested Wildcats
De Soto tennis coach Michael Sullivan had spent the last 15 minutes explaining everything girls tennis: talking about some of his best players, explaining the team's recent success at big tournaments and looking forward to the squads biggest home tournament, Saturday's Wildcat Invitational.
Then it hit him.
"It's weird," he said. "We have less than a month left."
The girls tennis season is the shortest of all the fall sports and the Cats are now less than a month from a hoped for end at the state tournament, which starts exactly three weeks from Friday, Oct. 12-13.
The squad has made the most of its season so far, however, and it hopes to continue to do so Thursday and again Saturday against some of the most intense competition remaining before sub-state begins.
First up is a home triangular. The Cats will face a significantly smaller school in Kansas City Christian, but a significantly larger one in Shawnee Mission West.
It's the showdown against West that has De Soto ready to play.
The Cats top doubles team of Rebekah Gulley and Hana Lindbloom have a state championship on the mind and have played accordingly most of the season, winning 15 times.
They dropped their first match of the season Sept. 8 at a tournament in Marysville, however, falling to the host's No. 1 doubles team 8-5.
The pair rebounded to win the doubles title four days later at the Baldwin Invitational, beating the same Marysville pair 8-3 on the way.
Now they'll look to continue that momentum Friday against Lindy Anderson and Jennifer Dien of Shawnee Mission West, last year's runners up in Class 6A.
"I think (losing) was good for them, to be brought back to Earth and shown they still have work to do," Sullivan said. "They could have that again this week against Shawnee Mission West. If they lose that one, they'll be fine with it -- last year they lost 8-1.
"This year, I think (Gulley and Lindbloom) will play them much better."
Two days later the team will be at it again, in the Wildcat Invitational, an eight-team home tournament Sullivan said the girls are eager to play in.
De Soto will welcome Mill Valley, Kansas City Christian, Lansing, Gardner, Leavenworth, Bonner Springs and Atchison.
"We have a good chance of winning our tournament," he said.