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Bishop Miege Press

The Student News Site of Bishop Miege

Bishop Miege Press

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Bishop Miege Press


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On The Podium: Girls tennis achieves highest placement at state in 15 years

Sophia Gassett
Senior Livi Shull prepares to volley at the 4A KSHSAA State Championships in October 2022. Shull will finish her career as a four-time state qualifier.

Over the past decade and a half, girls tennis has been unable to find a spot among the top three teams at the state competition. This past weekend in Winfield, Kansas, that drought ended. Behind a strong performance from the five state qualifiers, head coach Andrew Groene’s squad brought home a third place finish with 24 points.

Senior doubles partners Ellie Gudex and Livi Shull achieved seventh place at state, and they were the only team to take a set off of the eventual state champions. For a team surrounded by injury and uncertainty all season, Groene says that their placement is a fantastic achievement.

“It can be difficult when you think ‘Well, all we have to do is keep the ball in and we’ll win,’” Groene said. “I think that helped them understand that if they came together as a team, and not just two individual players out there, they can do some pretty good damage.”

Freshman Ella Daniel held her own in the number 1 singles spot all season, posting a 19-8 record. She went on to place first in regionals and qualify for the state semifinals, where she lost her semi-final match but won her third-place match. Daniel was the only non-senior to make it to the semifinals.

“Ella did phenomenal,” Groene said. “I mean all year, she did a great job of you know, not getting flustered and if she did get flustered for a game or two she was able to win the points, get focused and then after a couple games, the frustration would dissipate. There’s always things you can always work on, but I’m very, very pleased with how she played this year.

Fellow senior doubles duo Carly Kurt and Kate Pedrotti placed eleventh at state. The placement is a satisfying end to the two players’ tennis careers who both said they never thought they would be making the trip down to Winfield.

“I had them kind of picked to possibly be a doubles team and go to state but I didn’t know how well they would do,” Groene said. “They were solid all year and they listened well. They don’t play a lot of tennis, so when I would say something to them, they would say, ‘Oh, okay, I will try that.’ I think that that really paid dividends for them because they had nothing to lose, and they had nothing to gauge it towards so they were more easily swayed to work on certain things to benefit their game.”

Pedrotti and Kurt met Gudex and Shull in the consolation bracket, providing a difficult coaching situation.

“I told them I would coach them each individually before the match started,” Groene said. “I’d kind of take one team aside and talk to them, and then I’d take the other team aside and talk to them. They weren’t mad or upset. They were just bummed they had to play each other, but they went out there and had fun.

Shull and Gudex won the contest 8-4. They would each go on to win one more match, securing their respective placements.

“I think Livi and Ellie having such a good match in the quarterfinals really, really came through because I think the mental part of it was going to be key,” Groene said. “All year, Livi and Ellie had been a stronger team. They’re just stronger tennis players in general. But Carly and Kate might have played better doubles from start to finish this year. At state, anything’s up in the air, and it just depends on who plays better for that eight game set to move on.”

Four of the five state qualifiers will graduate before next year’s tennis season. Groene is already optimistic about filling those slots.

“You know, it’s not about just keeping the ball in play,” Groene said. “It’s about also being able to put the ball away, so that’s up in the air. You never know who’s coming in next year as a freshman. You never know who’s going to take it seriously and get out there and play in the summer. I know the coaches are all ready to be there and help out, but we’ll be just fine next year.”

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Daniel Sullivan, Sports Editor
Sophia Gassett, Photo Editor

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    Ella DanielOct 25, 2023 at 1:04 pm