With a heat index well into triple digits, the Blue Comet tennis team overcame the adverse conditions and the competition as it opened the season in dominating fashion at the Chanute Invitational on Thursday, Aug. 26.
Chanute finished first with 14 wins. In second was Iola with 8 wins. Labette County finished third with 7, followed by Columbus and Neodesha with 6 and 5 wins, respectively.
“This was a great way to start off the varsity season,” Blue Comet head coach Mike DeLaTorre said. “Playing in extreme heat, the Lady Comets never gave up.”
Chanute was paced by a pair of first-place finishes by its doubles teams.
In No. 1 doubles action, juniors Tyra Bogle and Grace Thompson cruised to a 4-0 finish.
The pair won by default 4-0 over Columbus after sickness forced the Titan pair to retire early.
Bogle and Thompson then defeated Jill DeLong and Caitlyn Morrison of Neodesha 8-1, Lakin Giager and Brookelynn Barger of Labette County 8-2, and Rebeka Coltrane and Charlie Peters of Iola 8-0.
“Tyra and Grace played together last season in the No. 1 doubles position and their familiarity with each other’s games showed today,” DeLaTorre said.
At No. 2 doubles, junior Lena Aguilar and sophomore Hannah Langen also went 4-0.
The pair defeated Brooklyn Lima and Sophie Lloyd of Columbus 8-0, McKenzie Morrison and Jordyn Williams of Neodesha 8-2, Brooklynn Farmer and Shelby Blackburn of Labette County 8-3, and Genevive Ward and Kennedy Maier of Iola 8-0.
“Lena and Hannah played together in a meet for the first time, but they played like they’ve played together for quite some time,” DeLaTorre said.
The 8-0 day by his doubles teams left DeLaTorre impressed.
“Exciting for me is the way both doubles teams dominated their divisions,” DeLaTorre said. “I am very pleased how both doubles teams communicated with each other and how they played.”
Senior Aimee Maxton, a state qualifier last season, went 3-1 at No. 1 singles.
Maxton struggled with the heat early, defaulting in her first match against Josie Robinson of Columbus while trailing 2-5.
She received fluids and rebounded to win the next three matches.
“Aimee had some difficulty in her first match,” DeLaTorre said. “I am pleased to see her bounce back and get a couple of big wins at the end and actually dominating those matches.”
Maxton beat Kelsey Cox of Neodesha 8-0, Katie Zwahlen of Labette County 8-2, and Miah Shelby of Iola 8-1.
Rylee Smith, a highly-touted freshman, blitzed through her first three matches at No. 2 singles before dropping the match of the night to Iola’s Keira Fawson in a tiebreaker 8-7 (8-6).
Smith was down 0-3 before making a valiant comeback attempt.
“She never gave up, and I love the way she just kept fighting,” DeLaTorre said. “She lost the tie-breaker, but Rhylee showed that she will be a force to reckon with this season and in the future.”
Smith opened with an 8-0 over Lizzy Welch of Columbus before dispatching Neodesha’s Charlee Anderson 8-1 and Labette County’s Molly Leonard 8-2.
“She dominated her first three opponents as if she is a veteran,” DeLaTorre said.
Next up for the Comet varsity is against Labette County in Parsons.