The Maize High School girls won their own tennis meet Tuesday, but their home-court advantage was slim. The top three teams were separated by only one point.
“I knew it would be close,” said Maize assistant coach Jeremy Bernard. “I didn’t think it would be within a point for first, second and third.”
Maize won its quad with a team total of 10 points. Salina South generated nine, and Maize South followed with eight. Wichita Independent managed one point.
The Eagles’ No. 1 singles player, Kailey Utech, and the No. 2 doubles team of Kate Utech and Sarah Slack each went 3-0. The close races occurred in the No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles categories. Both resulted in a three-way tie for first place.
When three-way ties occur, winners are determined by game percentages. A trio of No. 2 singles players – Maize’s Natalie Chabot, Maize South’s Maddie Loomis and Salina South’s Courtney Irwin – finished 2-1 on the day. Irwin earned the No. 2 singles title.
Three teams playing No. 1 doubles also went 2-1: Maize South’s Mariah Suchan and Alexa Brockel, Salina South’s Sarah McConnell and Deby Nouanlasy, and Wichita Independent’s Cara Anderson and Jessica Kieu. Maize South won the championship.
Bernard said Maize’s team victory came down to a couple of key players coming through with wins at the end of the quad.
“A little bit of luck always helps,” he added.
Luck may have been a factor for Maize South’s No. 2 doubles team, Karli Kubik and Claire Cervantes. Tuesday was the first time the girls played as a doubles pair, and they went 2-1. Their only misstep was an 8-6 loss to Maize.
“I feel like we adjusted with each other,” said Kubik.
The junior also remarked that she thought this year’s Maize South squad was better than last year. She has seen improvement, which will be valuable since the Mavericks moved to Class 5A (from 4A) and to the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League’s Division II (from Division IV) this fall.
Offseason play is crucial, said Cervantes.
“You have to stay focused and you have to keep getting better,” she continued. “You can’t get worse.”
Tuesday’s match was the first time Cervantes chose to compete since the death of her 52-year-old father, Michael Cervantes, on Sept. 1. He suffered a stroke.
“I definitely wanted to make him proud,” said a tearful Cervantes, who remarked that her father always supported her in tennis.
Despite her grief, Cervantes – a sophomore – said she never considered leaving the tennis squad this season.
“I wanted to do it for my team,” she explained. “I’m not going to let my team down.”