INDEPENDENCE — Lauren Farris and Jaidyn Shultz will end their high school tennis careers at the last possible location, the state tournament.

Farris and Shultz, Parsons’ top doubles tandem, claimed third at the KSHSAA 4A Regional Tournament on Saturday to advance to state.

Independence won the team regional title with 26 points, followed by Fort Scott (12), Chanute (11), Parsons (6) and Iola (2). 

Parsons’ anchors at doubles were the only two Vikings to advance to state.

Farris and Shultz upended Coffeyville in the first round 6-0-60 before defeating teammates Jadyn Heck and Kamryn Keathley 6-0, 6-0.

In the semifinals, Farris and Shultz fell to Independence 6-3, 6-3 before winning the third place match over Chanute 6-0, 6-2. 

Shultz played the entire tournament with a hand injury and played with her right wrist taped up.

“They did really well,” Parsons head coach Tyler Beardmore said. “Jaidyn was a little beat up with that hand, but she did well. Getting third place instead of fourth was huge for seeding at state.”

Heck and Keathley, the Vikings’ second doubles team, were eliminated one win shy of earning a bid to state. The two beat Labette County in the first round 6-0, 6-3 before losing to Farris and Shultz.

In the qualifying round, Heck and Keathley lost to Chanute 6-0, 6-2.

“I’m so proud of those two and every other girl we’ve had at that spot,” Beardmore said. “For a pair of first-year players to get one win away from state, I couldn’t be more proud.” 

Sydney Schibi, who was one win shy of making state a year ago, suffered the same fate again.

After beating Katie Zwhalen of Labette County 6-0, 6-2 in the first round, Schibi lost to Emma Daly of Fort Scott 4-6, 6-0 (4) in a match that went to a tiebreaker.

Schibi was eliminated in the qualifying round, falling to Kiera Fawson of Iola 7-6 (6), 6-2).

“It’s disappointing not being able to get a singles player to state,” Beardmore said. “We had one that was for sure a top-six player. It’s two years in a row she came up one match short. She definitely wanted to go to state. Hopefully she’ll work hard next summer and in the offseason.” 

Parsons’ other singles competitor, Ellie Valentin-Florence, lost to Fawson in another tiebreaker 6-4, 0-6 (9) in the first round.

“She’s done everything she’s been asked to do and improved every single day,” Beardmore said. “She knows she can compete at a high level. There’s a lot of youth in the region, so it won’t be easy. But I know she’ll put in the work.” 

Ava Morris of Independence won the singles regional title while Mercy Smith and Abby Veile of Independence captured the doubles title.

For Farris and Shultz, who medaled at state a year ago in a field made smaller due to COVID-19 restrictions, there is aspirations for one last run.

“A top-four finish would be great. With the right draw, that’s an achievable goal,” Beardmore said. “At this point, I don’t know there’s anything to fix. We’ll just keep building on everything we’ve worked on all year. They’ve been playing together for four years. They know how to play the game.” 

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