ARKANSAS CITY – After a frustrating regular season at times, the Barton Community College women’s tennis team put it all together – well almost all together – at the Region VI meet this past weekend. The Cougars battled to the end for a second place finish, coming up just short in third place.
But more importantly, with its efforts Barton will be off the NJCAA Championships May 3-7 at Tucson, Ariz.
As expected, Cowley College, the No. 8 ranked team in the nation, won the event with No. 16 Seward and Barton battling for second. Cowley finished with 23.5 points to win the region. Seward was second with 17.5 and Barton a close third with 16. Hesston was a distant fourth with 1.5 points.
“We knew going into the tournament that it would be a battle for second place with Seward,” Barton Coach Lyle Stickney said. “We played them earlier this season and lost 8-1, but we were without several of our key players and suffered some bad defeats in matches that I felt we could have or should have won.”
None of the Cougars were able come away with a region title but four singles players made it to the finals and one doubles team did as well – coming away with second place finishes.
In the singles matches Daniela Sanz won her opening match at No. 2 singles against Cowley’s Eva Forneiron is easy fashion, 6-0, 6-4. That moved her to the finals where she lost a key match to Seward’s Paula Coyos, 6-4, 6-3.
The three other semifinal winners in singles, as well the doubles semifinal winner, all had battles with Seward to open the tournament.
“The seeding worked out to where we faced Seward in six semifinal matches,” Coach Stickney said. “That was great for us as I felt we had a better than good chance of winning five of them. We won three of the four singles matches and the No. 2 doubles team also picked up a significant win.”
Those three wins over Seward in singles matches were Nos. 4-6.
At No. 4 singles Karli Beck, a freshman from Claflin, knocked off Naomie Bakussa in a thriller. Beck won the opening match 7-6 before Bakussa came back for a 6-3 win to even it up. Beck won the third and deciding set 6-3 to advance to the finals. In the championship match she lost to Cowley’s Logan Williams, 6-2, 6-1.
In No. 5 singles Kelly Brauer of Dodge City won in straight sets over Seward’s Xockiti Gonzalez 6-0 and 6-4 to make it to the finals. In the title match she lost 6-0, 6-0 to Cowley’s Lauryn Sullins.
It was a similar path at No. 6 singles for Great Bend’s Becca Brining. Brining breezed through Grace Golden of Seward in the semifinals, 6-0, 6-0 but lost by that same score to Stormi Tipton of Cowley in the finals.
The win in doubles came as Barbara Codognotto and Beck teamed up to beat Kellyn Peters and Gonzalez at No. 2 doubles in straight sets. The Cougar duo won 6-1, 6-4 to advance to the finals. In the championship match the two battled Logyn Williams and Lauryn Sullins in the open set but ended up losing 7-5, 6-2 for second place.
The tournament came down to the No. 3 doubles match with the winner all but assuring second place for their team. Barton’s Brauer and Stephanie Langer of Great Bend won lost the opening set 6-3 then won the next set 6-3 over Seward’s Bukassa and Golden to even it at one set apiece. But Bukassa and Golden prevailed in third set, 6-3.
“After splitting the first two sets we had a break point chance at two-all in the third,” Coach Stickney said. “We sailed a volley just wide and Seward took advantage of that miscue to hold serve and take the last set.”
Brauer and Langer made easy work of Hesston’s Rachel Short-Miller and Courtney Wengerd in the third place match, 6-0, 6-1.
“Our matches with Seward were bittersweet as our squad avenged four matches to players we had previously lost to, but, we fell short of bringing home a plaque,” Coach Stickney said. “But the bottom line is that we qualified for the National Tournament.”
In the other two singles matches Margaux Perez lost by default to Cowley’s Anna Buiukian in the semifinals then defeated Hesston’s Brooke Hershberger in the third place match 6-1 6-1.
At No. 3 singles Codognotto lost 6-3, 6-2 to Seward’s Peters then defeated Molly Cherveny of Hesston, 6-0, 6-0 for third.
The No. 1 doubles team of Perez and Sanz also retired in the semifinal match then came back to beat Dusti Diener and Hershberger of Hesston, 6-1, 6-1 in the third place match.