In a season-opening tournament that marked the first sporting event for Parsons High School since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Parsons Vikings girls tennis team tied for third in a four-team tournament it hosted on Friday at Forest Park.

Parsons instituted a variety of health guidelines and procedures for players, coaches and fans to keep the event safe during the pandemic. Those included turning over the bleachers to promote social distancing and mask-wearing from all players, coaches and most fans.

“I thought it went pretty well, honestly,” Parsons Head Coach Tyler Beardmore said. “All the guidelines we put in place were followed for the most part. I thought it went pretty smooth.” 

Independence won the tournament, scoring eight points. Fort Scott was second with six, while Parsons and Pittsburg tied for third with five points apiece.

“I would’ve liked to have done a little better, but I didn’t know what to expect with our twos,” Beardmore said. “We lost two matches in tiebreakers. Pulling those out would’ve been a huge difference.” 

Gracen Friess, who won the SEK League and regional title a year ago, went 3-0 in the No. 1 singles division.

Friess opened with an 8-0 win over Fort Scott’s Jenny Heckman. She then beat Marci Brown of Pittsburg 8-1 then secured an 8-4 victory over Independence’s Abby Veile.

“I didn’t expect anything less out of her,” Beardmore said. “I was really proud of her. Towards the end of the day, her ground strokes got a little out of control. We need to keep her hitting with that good top spin. That’s the only thing I saw bad out of her and that was towards the end of the day.” 

Cait Chalker went 0-3 in the No. 2 singles bracket, falling to Fort Scott’s Amanda Emmerson 8-7(3), Pittsburg’s Gabby Kasjaka 8-3 and Independence’s Elizabeth Kippenberger 8-3.

“She lost her first match in a tiebreaker so that was tough,” Beardmore said. “She was slow to get her feet going. By the third match, she was playing a lot better.” 

Jaidyn Shultz and Lauren Farris, the No. 1 doubles pairing that qualified for state a year ago, went 2-1. The two lost to Emma Daly and Ella Beth of Fort Scott 8-7(3) in their first match before claiming victories over Emily McGown and Emma Lawson of Pittsburg and Hannah Kippenberger and Elizabeth Hogge of Independence.

“It was a little surprising, that first loss,” Beardmore said. “Neither of them were pleased with that much. We talked about playing our game. They were playing not to lose. After we talked, they looked a lot better.” 

In the No. 2 doubles division, Sydney Schibi and Jazzy Palmer went 0-3 as both were making their varsity debuts.

The two fell to Lanie Krokroskia and Lindsay Majors of Fort Scott, Lillie Cawyer and Hallie McCabe of Pittsburg and Emma Short and Brynn Bertle of Independence.

“The jump to varsity tennis is quite a big jump,” Beardmore said. “I’m not disappointed in their result. Their goal is to get better with every match and they truly did do that.” 

Parsons was scheduled to play in a tournament at Independence on Saturday, but rain postponed the event to Wednesday.

Friess will get a high-profile matchup on Wednesday as she’ll face off against Annabelle Adams of Circle. Adams took second at state last year.

“It’s definitely going to be a tougher meet than what we had here,” Beardmore said. “Gracen will play a girl that got second at state last year. I’m looking for her to compete with that girl and give her a run for her money. She’s been putting in a lot of work during the summer, so hopefully we can see some results.” 

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