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Oilers celebrate state tennis championship
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Central Plains Lady Oilers Janae Ryan and Keeley Hipp won the 3-1A state tennis title Saturday on a cool, but beautiful fall day in Kansas City. It marked the first individual tennis championship for Central Plains, which includes the history of Claflin High School.
“It was a pretty special moment, not only for the girls, but for the history of the program,” said Central Plains tennis coach Gary Bittner. “Believe it or not, we have won a team title. But we have not won a singles or doubles championship in the past. Today is a history-making moment.”
Temperatures hovered around the 50-degree mark as play began. A slight northerly wind caused spectators to look for sunny seating during the course of the tournament. The Glacier Hills, on which Kansas City and its suburbs are built, were ablaze in color.
Hipp and Ryan were the top seeds and defeated Osborne’s Bretton Wolters and Savannah Noel 6-0, 6-0 Friday, before knocking a good Victoria team of Brianna Leiker and Madisyn Gerhardt into the consolation bracket 6-2, 6-2.
Hesston, which clinched the team championship, featured both doubles teams in semifinal matches.
Hipp and Ryan defeated Hesston’s Abigail Decker and Kaitlyn Schrock 6-4 and 6-4 Saturday in the semifinal match. They avenged their only loss of the season against the other Swather team of Olivia Brubacher and Katelyn Hageman, 6-1 and 6-4, to claim the gold medals.
“It’s just a good feeling to be able to do this — especially with my best friend by my side,” said Ryan.
“We’ve been best friends since day-care,” Hipp said.
The girls said they began to play tennis in first or second grade. Hipp and Ryan rolled up a 35-1 season record — with their only loss to Hesston’s team of Brubacher and Hageman. They passed the 100-match win mark at the Oct. 9-10 at the Kiowa regional tournament in Greensburg.
In the singles bracket, Oiler Kaylyn Oberle placed 11th at state. Oberle switched to singles play this season after playing doubles in 2014.
She beat Phillipsburg’s Orianna Ratzlaff 6-2, 6-2 before running into eventual singles state champion Anna Reidmiller of Wichita Independent, losing 6-0, 6-0.
Oberle defeated Kansas City Christian’s Ryan Jantsch 9-0 and Rachel Frese of Shawnee Maranatha Christian before being defeated by Hesston’s Morgan Holopirek 9-3. Oberle defeated Erica Ebenkamp of Conway Springs 9-8 (7-4) to capture 11th-place.
“Our two senior players (Oberle and Kylee Girard) came to practice and were ready to play,” Bittner said. “They had a very good work ethic and encouraged the younger players. They weren’t extremely vocal, but did a tremendous job of leading the way for us.
“Our parents and fans were there for us on each and every step of our journey. Without their support, our accomplishments would not have been possible.”