BY JIM MISUNAS
Great Bend's league champions No. 1 singles Remi Ingram and No. 1 doubles Alexis Folkerts-Abbie Moyers worked the Panthers within one victory of capturing the Western Athletic Conference girls tennis championship.
The Panthers had to beat Garden City in three of four head-to-head matches in the final match of the day.
But Garden City (13) held off Great Bend (12) by one point when No. 2 singles Sage Riggs outlasted Great Bend's Anna Popp 8-5 in a hotly-contested match at the Shannon Schartz tennis courts. Nearly every point featured long rallies as the players worked for every point. Riggs played brilliantly, hitting winner-after-winner. Popp is 24-9 heading to 5A regionals.
The Panthers nearly pulled off an amazing transformation from a middle of the pack WAC team into a serious league contender, thanks to the coaching "dream team" of head coach Zachary Bartel, Randy Moyers and Shannon Schartz.
WAC Player of the Year Ingram (19-15) survived a tiebreaker against Hays High's Lynsie Hansen 8-7 (7-2) and fought off Garden City's Carson Linenberger in dwindling light after sunset to capture No. 1 singles. The Linenberger match featured well-placed winners and Ingram's pin-point serving. Linenberger beat Ingram twice earlier in the season, once on a 7-5 tiebreaker.
"Carson is a very good player. I had to keep pressing her backhand and keep her running," Ingram said. "I kept the pressure on her. My focus was to keep pushing and have a chance for first place today."
She had to show patience against Hansen, who plays a persistent style.
"Lynsie is very consistent. She's a scrappy player who gets to every ball," Ingram said.
Folkerts and Moyers (23-7) earned their fourth doubles championship of the fall season with a perfect mix of consistent play. They played their best against Garden City, battling off a trio of game points for a 7-4 lead. Moyers delivered the match-ending winner on a soft shot that died over the net.
"That was our best match of the day," Folkerts said. "It was good teamwork, just talking to each other."
When Moyers served, Folkerts poached several winners at the net. Garden City's 6-foot Kipp carried a dominating presence at the net. The Panther tandem finished with a 3-2 record against the Kipp-led doubles team.
"When you play the better competition, we play up to their level," Moyers said. "We were able to pull it off."
Garden City's No. 2 doubles Ashleigh Chappel-Brooke Ptacek beat Dodge City's Jordyn Trombley-Becca Unruh, 8-5 for first place. Garden City coach Rod Robinson earned WAC Coach of the Year honors.
TEAM SCORES—1—Garden City 13; 2—Great Bend 12; 3—Dodge City 7; 4—Hays High 4; 4—Liberal 4
NO. 1 SINGLES—Remi Ingram, GB, 4-0; 2—Lynsie Hansen, Hays 3-1; 3—Carson Linenberger, GC, 2-2; 4—Priscilla Vasquez, L, 1-3; 5—Faith Heath, DC, 0-4
Ingram def. Hansen, 8-7 (7-2); Ingram def. Vasquez, 8-6; Ingram def. Linenberger, 8-5; Ingram def. Heath, 8-3
NO. 2 SINGLES—1—Sage Riggs, GC, 4-0; 2—Anna Popp, GB, 3-1; 3—Sammy Nguyen, DC, 2-2; 4—Katie Classen, L, 1-3; 5—Macey Speier, Hays, 0-4
Popp def. Speier, 8-0; Popp def. Classen, 8-0; Riggs def. Popp, 8-5; Popp def. Nguyen, 8-0
NO. 1 DOUBLES—1—Alexis Folkerts-Abbie Moyers, GB, 4-0; 2—Hannah Kipp-Carole Galia, GC, 3-1; 3—Jewel Escobar-Mariana Ortiz, DC, 2-2; 4—Riddhi Bombaywala-Brianna Sanders, L, 1-3; 5—Taylor Deines-Kayler Wellbrock, Hays, 0-4
Folkerts-Moyers def. Deines-Wellbrock, 8-3; Folkerts-Moyers def. Bombaywala-Sanders, 8-0; Folkerts-Moyers def. Escobar-Ortiz, 8-2; Folkerts-Moyers def. Kipp-Galia, 8-4.
NO. 2 DOUBLES—1—Ashleigh Chappel-Brooke Ptacek, GC, 4-0; 2—Jordyn Trombley-Becca Unruh, DC, 3-1; 3—Madison Huslig-Mya Ward, GB, 1-3 (44%) ;4—Maggie Robben-Sage Zweifel, Hays, 1-3 (38%); 5—Aracely Jurado-Jaciana Rivera, L, 1-3 (30%)
Huslig-Ward def. Jurado-Rivera, 8-2; Robben-Zweifel def. Huslig-Ward, 8-5; Trombley-Unruh def. Huslig-Ward, 8-3; Chappel-Ptacek def. Huslig-Ward, 8-4