INDEPENDENCE — In a swan’s song to the KSHSAA 4A Regional Tournament on Saturday, the Parsons Vikings took fourth place in the SEK League Tournament on Monday at Independence.
Independence, the hosts after the tournament was moved from Parsons due to court conditions at Forest Park, won the league title as a team with 28 points.
Chanute took second place with 17 points, followed by Fort Scott (15), Parsons (13), Pittsburg (11), Labette County (4) and Coffeyville (0).
“In three out of four spots, we played to our seed,” Parsons head coach Tyler Beardmore said. “We can’t be too mad at that. But we had opportunities to be quite a bit higher than fourth. So it’s a little disappointing.”
Lauren Farris and Jaidyn Shultz, Parsons’ top doubles team and the slot with the highest aspirations, earned a runner-up finish. The pair lost to Independence’s Mercy Smith and Abby Veile 6-3, 6-4 in the championship match after earning victories over Coffeyville and Chanute.
“At times in that championship match, they didn’t look great. But that’s a team they know how to beat and took them to a tiebreaker at Collegiate,” Beardmore said. “Hopefully they can figure it out and beat them at regionals.”
With regionals back at Independence on Saturday, Farris and Shultz are working on their strategy against Smith and Veile — the Parsons tandem is 1-4 against league doubles champions this year.
“We’re going to practice a lot this week to try and get better at playing people who are at the net,” Farris said. “Hopefully that gets us more prepared for when we play Indy again.”
“They’ve found that as a weakness against us,” Beardmore added. “Jaidyn and Lauren struggled with some lobs at league. So that’s something we’ll work on. They’ve got to be quicker making decisions in whether they’ll lob it or pass them with some hard groundstrokes.”
In the No. 1 singles division, Independence’s Ava Morris beat Fort Scott’s Emma Daly to win the championship.
Parsons’ Sydney Schibi took fifth place, beating Labette County’s Katie Zwahlen 9-2 in the fifth-place match.
Schibi finished one win shy of a state berth last fall and aims to correct that this season.
“She’s definitely a top-six player, but she’s got to show up,” Beardmore said. “She went into league as the fourth seed and finished fifth. Everybody else played to their seed. She looked great a week ago, so she’s got to stick to what we’re telling her.”
Schibi, a sophomore, said last year’s heartbreak has weighed on her.
“Going from last year and being one place off from going to state, that pushed me to want to make it this year,” Schibi said. “I think I have a good chance. Looking to the future gives me some momentum.”
In the No. 2 singles division, Independence’s Ellie Kippenberger beat Fort Scott’s Jenny Heckman in the championship match.
For Parsons, Ellie Valentin-Florence finished in fourth place and has proven herself to be a player on the rise.
“I wouldn’t want to player her, personally, if she was on another team,” Beardmore said. “She’s quickly improving and competing much better. She looked really good, at times, on Monday. She’s a dangerous player if she gets the right draw.”
As for the No. 2 doubles bracket, the Independence duo of Bertie/Kippenberger beat Chanute’s Aguilar/Langen to take first place.
Parsons’ duo of Jadyn Heck and Kamryn Keathley finished in fourth place.
As for Labette County results, Zwahlen finished in sixth place in No. 1 singles. Aubrey Lassen took sixth place in No. 2 singles, Charlie Alloway and Molly Leonard were sixth in the No. 1 doubles division while Madisyn Helwig and Lily Beery took sixth in No. 2 doubles.
The KSHSAA 4A Regional Tournament will take place on Saturday at Independence. The top six finishers in one singles and one doubles bracket will earn berths to the state tournament in Winfield.