Jacey Arnett and Ellie Messenger figured a trip to State was in their future. The ease in which Arkansas City High School’s No. 1 doubles team has achieved that goal might not have been as obvious.
Arnett, a reigning 5A State doubles champion with partner Kelsie Burr, will end her senior year at the Big Show along with Messenger, a junior.
The Ark City duo dominated the competition Saturday at the Class 5A Regional Championships on their home courts at the Louderback Family Tennis Center.
The lone representatives for the Lady Bulldogs, Arnett and Messenger take a 30-3 record into the KSHSAA Class 5A State Championships this Friday and Saturday at Pittsburg High School.
“They faced the top teams from Kapaun, Andover Central and Bishop Carroll for the first time this season and cruised through all three matches,” ACHS coach Aaron O’Donnell said. “Some of the best teams from the other Regionals they will battle at State come from McPherson, Lenexa St. James and Topeka-Seaman.”
The Lady Bulldogs placed third in the Regional behind state power private schools Kapaun Mt. Carmel and Bishop Carroll. Kapaun teammates Clara Whitaker defeated Reagan Boleski 6-1, 6-2 for the Regional singles title.
The toughest match for Arnett and Messenger was actually the semifinal. After shutting out Paige Heick and Emma Woodworth of Goddard 6-0, 6-0 to start the show, the ACHS tandem cruised to a 6-2, 6-0 semifinal victory against Kapaun sisters Gabby Searl and Sabrina Searl.
The title match was an easier 6-1, 6-0 whipping of the Carroll duo of Hope Lubbers and Heidi Lubbers.
Ark City’s No. 2 doubles team of Taylor Nulik and Landry Biddle came up just short of a berth in the Big Show.
The No. 5 seed, Nulik and Biddle opened with a 6-0, 6-4 triumph against the Goddard-Eisenhower duo of Cadence Pfaff and Sarah Howard. They took the first set against fourth-seeded Jazzmyn Williams and Hilary Tallman of Andover Central, but lost in a tiebreaker 2-6, 6-4 (10-1).
Facing elimination and needing one more victory to advance, Nulik and Biddle was upset by the ninth-seeded Searl sisters 6-4, 6-2, ending their season.
“This was the second tough loss of the day for this tandem,” O’Donnell said. “Both are juniors and can work hard in the winter, spring and summer to prepare for their senior season.”
The only other senior on varsity, Jolee Wells came up one victory short of State.
The No. 10 seed, Wells opened singles play with a 6-3, 6-4 upset of seventh-seeded Leah Combs of Goddard. However, up next was Boleski, a 5A State semifinalist a year ago as a freshman, who rolled 6-0, 6-0.
Facing elimination, Wells fell 6-1, 6-1 to sixth-seeded Rachel Davis of Eisenhower.
Ark City’s No. 2 singles player, Justise Mills, had the arduous task of facing Boleski in the first round, falling 6-0, 6-0.
Class 5A Regional Championships
Saturday at Arkansas City
Louderback Family Tennis Center
Team Scores — 1. Kapaun Mt. Carmel 18; 2. Bishop Carroll 12; 3. Arkansas City 9; 4. Andover Central 8; 5. Goddard-Eisenhower 6; 6. Wichita Northwest 4; 7. Maize South 1; 8. Goddard 0.
(Top 6 advance to State)
Championship — Clara Whitaker (KMC) def. Reagan Boleski (KMC), 6-1, 6-2. Third — Paige Stranghoner (BC) def. Kelly Truong (GE), 6-2, 6-0. Fifth — Anna Strickland (ACtl) def. Rachel Davis (GE), 6-2, 6-3.
Championship — Jacey Arnett & Ellie Messenger (Ark) def. Hope Lubbers & Heidi Lubbers (BC), 6-1, 6-0. Third — Jazzmyn Williams & Hilary Tallman (ACtl) def. Millie Birchfield & Rheagan Thompson (WNW), 6-2, 6-4. Fifth — Gabby Searl & Sabrina Searl (KMC) def. Claudia Fury & Ally McMahon (KMC), 6-4, 7-6 (5).
Arkansas City Results
Jolee Wells, DNP (1-2): def. Leah Combs (Gd), 6-3, 6-4; lost to Reagan Boleski (KMC), 6-0, 6-0; lost to Rachel Davis (GE), 6-1, 6-1.
Justise Mills, DNP (0-1): lost to Reagan Boleski (KMC), 6-0, 6-0.
Jacey Arnett & Ellie Messenger, Regional champions (3-0): def. Paige Heick & Emma Woodworth (Gd), 6-0, 6-0; def. Gabby Searl & Sabrina Searl (KMC), 6-2, 6-0; def. Hope Lubbers & Heidi Lubbers (BC), 6-1, 6-0.
Landry Biddle & Taylor Nulik, DNP (1-2): def. Cadence Pfaff & Sarah Howard (GE), 6-0, 6-4; lost to Jazzmyn Williams & Hilary Tallman (ACtl), 2-6, 6-4 (10-1); lost to Gabby Searl & Sabrina Searl (BC), 6-4, 6-2.