BY JIM MISUNAS
PRAIRIE VILLAGE — Central Plains Oiler Emily Ryan wrapped her head in a towel, trying to console herself after losing in the 3-1A state tennis championship for the third consecutive year.
Three-time state champion Lilly McNeill of Kansas City Christian was absolutely brilliant, hitting winner-after-winner in a dominating 6-0, 6-1 final. McNeill drilled pin-point passing shots, returned Ryan's service and controlled her own service. McNeill's near-flawless performance handed Ryan her first loss after 32 consecutive wins.
When Ryan played a perfect point, she was able to win her share of points. But McNeill played one of her best matches of the season to finish with a 20-1 record and third straight title in windless 65-degree weather.
"That match was the biggest match all season because it's the championship," McNeill said. "I played to the best of my ability. Emily is a great player. She came the net and put some pressure on me. My passing shots were the best thing I did today."
Ryan earned a hard-fought 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 semifinal victory over Salina Sacred Heart's Lily Perrin.
Kansas City Christian captured the 3-1A state championship with 40 points and Central Plains (37) finished as state runner-up.
The Oilers' No. 2 doubles team Zoe Potter-Jennah Jeffrey (28-9) stunned Smoky Valley's Rachel Yenni-Karik Elliott 6-4, 7-5 in the second round and upset Sterling's Natalie Schweizer-Riley Richter, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 to reach the 3-1A semifinals. Conway Springs' champions Kara Koester-Karlee Osner (31-2) downed Potter-Jeffrey, 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinals. Sterling's Kinzie Comley-Aubrey Anderson downed Potter-Anderson 6-0, 6-3 for third place.
Central Plains' ninth-graders Brynna Hammeke-Kyla Metro lost to Sterling's Kinzie Comley-Aubrey Anderson 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals. But they rebounded with three victories, capped by a 9-3 victory over Ellsworth's Jaycee Cunningham-Jaide Talbott 9-3 for fifth place.
"Our girls had an unbelievable performance," said Central Plains coach Gary Bittner. "I was very proud of all the girls because they all contributed. The state awards the top five finishers all-state honors and they all did that. We enjoyed a great tournament and a great weekend. The hard work they put in was rewarded. We've got three quality players returning with Jennah Jeffrey, Brynna Hammeke and Kyla Metro."
Bittner said the performance of Potter and Jeffrey exceeded expectations.
"That was the best tennis they've played all year," Bittner said. "They came through with a tremendous match to upset a really good Smoky Valley team then beat Sterling."
3-1A STATE TENNIS
Prairie Village, Friday/Saturday
TEAM SCORES—1—KC Christian 40; 2—Central Plains 37; 3—Conway Springs 27; 4—Sterling 21; 5—Ellsworth 16; 6—Smoky Valley 15; 7—Salina Sacred Heart 13; 8—Kingman 12; 9—Victoria 10
SINGLES FINALS—1—Lilly McNeill, KC Christian def. Emily Ryan, Central Plains, 6-0, 6-1; 3—Lily Perrin, Salina Sacred Heart def. Hannah Pearce, Kingman, 6-0, 6-0; 5—Emma Sand, KC Christian def. Brooklynn Kuhn, Victoria, 9-0; 7—Sense Cadman, Wichita Independent def. Autymn Schreiner, Wabaunsee, 9-3; 9—Loren May, Conway Springs def. Jacie Roth, Phillipsburg, 9-0; 11—Sydney Evaristo, Beloit def. Lena Rachholz, SV, 9-2
SEMIFINALS—McNeill def. Pearce, 6-0, 6-0; Ryan def. Perrin, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
QUARTERFINALS—McNeill def. Kuhn, 6-0, 6-0; Pearce def. Rauchholz, 6-2, 7-6 (10-7); Ryan def. Sand, 6-2, 6-1; Perrin def. Cadman, 6-1, 6-0
SINGLES SECOND ROUND—McNeill def. Mackenzie Dodson, Colby, 6-0, 6-0; Kuhn def. May, 6-2, 7-5; Rauchholz def. Abbigail LeBeau, Scott City, 6-1, 6-1; Pearce def. Evaristo, 6-4, 6-4; Ryan def. Schreiner, 6-0, 6-0; Sand def. Kristina Head, Lyons, 6-0, 6-0; Cadman def. Roth, 6-0, 6-0; Perrin def. Victoria Milburn, Ashland, 6-0, 6-0
FIRST ROUND—Dodson def. Audrey Manry, Larned, 6-2, 6-1; Kuhn def. Kaiden Brunkow, Kiowa County, 6-2, 6-2; Raucholz def. Marin McCausland, Wichita Independent, 6-4, 6-4; Pearce def. Alivia Sherer, Rossville, 6-1, 6-0; Schreiner def. Molly Bender, Conway Springs, 6-2, 6-0; Sand def. Karissa Wilson, Sterling, 6-2, 6-3; Roth def. Lauren Crotinger, Greeley County, 6-2, 6-1; Milburn def. Caroline Brungardt, Trego, 6-3, 6-2
CONSOLATION—LeBeau, Scott City def. Manry, Larned, 9-7
DOUBLES FINALS—1—Kara Koester-Karlee Osner, Conway Springs def. Juliet Bartels-Kiera Knoflicek, KC Christian, 6-3, 6-3; 3—Kinzie Comley-Aubrey Anderson, Sterling def. Zoe Potter-Jennah Jeffrey, Central Plains, 6-0, 6-3; 5—Brynna Hammeke-Kyla Metro, Central Plains def. cJaycee Cunningham-Jaide Talbott, Ellsworth, 9-3; 7—Rachel Yenni-Karik Elliott, Smoky Valley def. Natalie Schweizer-Riley Richter, Sterling, 9-5; 9—Cynthia Gonzalez-Lanae Haupt, Scott City def. Windholz-Hasse, Ellsworth, 9-5; 11—Nicole Campbell-Lucy Boyles, Conway Springs def. Hannah Kinderknecht-Tillie Malinowsky, Trego, 9-6
SEMIFINALS—Koester-Osner def. Potter-Jeffrey, 6-2, 6-1; Bartels-Knoflicek def. Comley-Anderson, 6-3, 6-3
QUARTERFINALS—Koester-Osner def. Cunningham-Talbott, 6-3, 6-2 ; Potter-Jeffrey def. Schweizer-Richter, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1; Bartels-Knoflicek def. Campbell-Boyles, , 6-4, 6-3; Comley-Anderson def. Hammeke-Metro, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3
SECOND ROUND—Koester-Osner def. Deborah Edelman-Nicole Stallbaumer, Sabetha, 6-1, 6-1; Cunningham-Talbott def. Elaina McMillan-Emily Jones, Smoky Valley, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1; Schweizer-Richter def. Monica Gleason-Alison Unruh, Meade, 6-4, 6-3; Potter-Jeffrey def. Yenni-Elliott, 6-4, 7-5; Bartels-Knoflicek def. Kinderknecht-Malinowsky, 6-0, 6-0; Campbell-Boyles def. Gonzalez-Haupt, 6-1, 6-3; Hammeke-Metro def. Gina Favero-Olivia Favero, Shawnee Maranatha, 6-1, 6-3; Comley-Anderson def. Isabela Gutierrez Myers-Sadie Hermosillo, Scott City, 6-0, 6-1
FIRST ROUND—Edelman-Stallbaumer def. Kyra Nolan-Karlyn Woelk, Greeley County, 6-1, 6-1; McMillan-Jones def. Ella McNett-Ava Mull, Larned, 6-1, 6-3; Schweizer-Richter def. Cynthia Gonzalez-Lanae Haupt, Scott City, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4); Potter-Jeffrey def. Kaylee Shandy-Kiley Jargo, Wichita Classical, 6-4, 7-5; Kinderknecht-Malinowsky def. Shelby Green-Ali Jargo, Wichita Classical, 6-2, 6-3; Campbell-Boyles def. Zoey Dinkel-Kaycee Russell, Phillipsburg, 6-2, 6-3; Favero-Favero def. Monica Hammeke-Taryn Robl, Ellinwood, 7-5, 6-3; Gutierrez Myers-Hermosillo def. Kendyl Bolinder-Raegan Feyh, Wabaunsee, 6-2, 6-4
CONSOLATION—Hammeke-Metro, CP def. Yenni-Ellliot, 9-4; Hammeke-Metro, CP def. Windholz-Hasse, Ellsworth, 9-2; Hannah Kinderknecht-Tillie Malinowsky, Trego def. Hammeke-Robl, Ellinwood, 9-4; Yenni-Elliott def. NcNett-Mull, Larned, 9-1