Multiple Wildcats profit at home tournament
The De Soto tennis squad was able to take a lot of different lessons from its largest home meet, Saturday's eight-team Wildcat Invitational.
Afterward, the Cats agreed there's something to be said for taking the trophy as well.
De Soto hasn't had much trouble collecting trinkets this season -- the Cats have won their last three tournaments. They didn't struggle much with the task Saturday either.
The Cats captured both the singles and doubles championships, and the second-place singles spot as well.
Cat senior Rebekah Gulley and junior Hana Lindbloom, victors of the doubles bracket, said they got everything they wanted to out of the home event. Having lost only twice on the season, that meant just a shred of sharpening and some dedicated work on playing the net better before the postseason rolls around in early October.
"We played well," Gulley said. "We worked on our net game a lot. We use days like this to get ready. We've been trying to work on it."
It's good they could take that away. They didn't find much competition on the court.
The pair blew their way to the finals, dropping only two games while beating teams from Mill Valley, Lansing and Kansas City Christian.
A Bonner Springs team slowed Lindbloom and Gulley in the finals -- De Soto's top pair only led 3-2 at one point -- but couldn't maintain any momentum. The Cats adjusted to the Braves' lobbing style of play and made quick work of their last competition, taking five of the final six games.
"That's three years in a row," Lindbloom said of the home tournament. "It's not about the competition. We just want to win it because it's our tournament."
Senior Hannah Konetzni, meanwhile, won her first tournament title of the season, defeating sophomore teammate Suzie Gulley 8-1 in the finals.
Konetzni's biggest win of the day came in the semi-final round. After losing only one game in her first two matches, Konetzni beat Amy Briggs on Lansing 8-6, avenging one of the Cat veteran's three 2007 losses.
"I could have played better (against Briggs) but overall, I played pretty well," Konetzni said. "She's really fast. Last time, she moved me around the court, but this time I moved her around.
"Now it feels like I only lost two matches this season."
No De Soto player likely did more to help herself than Suzie Gulley, however. She entered the day a solid 11-7, but lacked any headlining wins, a key deficiency when it comes time to set regional and sub-state brackets.
Gulley solved the problem Saturday. She beat Teran Holter of Bonner Springs 8-1, then beat Bre Alholm, Kansas City Christian's No. 1 player, 9-7.
Finally Gulley handled Mill Valley's No. 1 singles threat, Lindsey Buenger, 8-4.
The winning streak set up two things. First came the showdown with Konetzni, the second battle Gulley has lost to her teammate this month.
What comes later could prove far more valuable, Sullivan said.
"I played my two best matches of the season," Suzie Gulley said. "I got some advice from the counselor (Chad Brecheisen). It helped me a lot with my mental game. He told me to not dwell on the past points that I lose.
The three other Wildcat competitors Saturday suffered from low seeds, thus early matches with the tournament's top talent.
De Soto's No. 2 doubles team of Brittney Smith and Kara Doherty won six games in two losses, the first to Lansing and the second to a Bonner Spring pair.
Russian foreign exchange student Stefaniya Moroz, playing in the singles bracket, finished the day 3-2.
Moroz, 7-4 on the season, began her day with an 8-0 victory against Jessica Mitchell of Bonner and wrapped it with a 6-0 victory over Lauren Heinen of Gardner Edgerton.
"Brittney and Kara played the No. 2 seed and got a few games off them, then lost 8-3, so they didn't have the greatest day. They're coming along, though," Sullivan said. "What I liked is they were down 6-1, but finished strong.
"They're learning how to hit the right ball and get in the right position. That's a part of it, getting in those right spots."