Hesston Record Staff
PRATT — Five Hesston Lady Swathers tennis players are headed to the state tournament Friday in Dodge City.
Singles player Morgan Holopirek and the doubles tandems of Kaitlyn Schrock and Abigail Decker and Tessa Isaac and Katelyn Hageman qualified for state by finishing in the top six at the regional tournament this past weekend at Wichita Collegiate. Olivia Brubacher fell one win short of reaching state. Overall, the team finished second to Collegiate.
Holopirek, who qualified for state Saturday by winning her first two matches, won her third-place match. The regional tournament was postponed a day due to weather, and all of the Lady Swathers returned Sunday to complete the tournament.
Both doubles pairs won their first matches Sunday. But then they had the unenviable task of playing each other in the fifth-place match. Schrock and Decker came out on top in the internecine contest.
Holopirek fell behind 4-1 in the first set of her second match Saturday against Wichita Collegiate's Emily Ramsey, but she rallied for a 6-4, 6-1 victory.
"Mentally, it well well," Holopirek said Saturday. "I prayed every game point. That helped a lot. I stayed positive. I never got down on myself."
Ramsey previously beat Holopirek at the Collegiate Tournament of Champions Sept. 27 at Collegiate.
"I wanted to get even very badly," Holopirek said.
On Sunday, she knocked off Madison Thrasher, who also previously had beat her this season.
Isaac and Hageman also stayed positive in the quarterfinal loss to Collegiate’s two-time state champions on Saturday.
"We didn't really have anything to lose with that one," Hageman said. "So we just played our best."
Isaac said she and her partner played a lot better against Stallbaumer and Wagler since losing to them earlier in the season.
"I think we've been playing pretty well today," she said.
Their strong play continued Sunday when they defeated Collegiate’s Cody and Maloney after dropping the first set 5-7.
Schrock and Decker defeated Sterling's No. 7-ranked duo of Wilson and Gilmore on Saturday before falling to Haven's No. 2-ranked pair of Sam Stallbaumer and Mary Wagler.
Before the decision was made to continue regionals on Sunday afternoon, Schrock said the anticipation of waiting for one more match that could send her and Decker to state was overwhelming.
"It's going to be nerve-wracking, but we have to play confident and make sure we don't make a bunch of mistakes," she said.
Coach Travis Sebits said Schrock and Decker played some of their best tennis of the season at regionals. He also said he was extremely proud of Brubacher’s play. The field was the toughest and deepest in Class 321A. According to him, she would have certainly qualified for state at any other regional.