ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Hillsboro senior Amber Hefley capped a strong season by finishing fourth in singles at the Class 3-2-1A state tennis tournament in Hesston this past weekend.
Hefley opened play Friday with a convincing 6-1, 6-0 win over Sarah Roths of Conway Springs, then secured a place in Saturday’s semifinals with a close 6-4, 7-5 victory over Krista Meder of Victoria.
“I guess I did play a little better than usual,” Hefley said of her play on Friday. “I just wanted to make sure I won so I would be able to get at least fourth.”
Saturday’s competition was decidedly tougher. Hefley was matched in the semifinals with the tournament’s No. 1 seed and eventual champion, Mallory Schwan of Wichita Collegiate.
Schwan had beaten Hefley, 6-0, 6-0 two weeks earlier at the MCAA league meet.
“I didn’t want to just give it to her,” Hefley said. “So I’m like, OK, let’s put up a fight. I had to make sure I was really concentrating.”
Hefley did battle the Collegiate star in the first game, winning three games before Schwan prevailed, 6-3. The second game was all Schwan, though, as Hefley was shut out, 6-0.
“I wanted to win, but that didn’t happen,” Hefley said.
In the battle for third, Hefley squared off against Katrina Brodhagen of Hesston. Brodhagen had beaten Hefley 8-6 in early September and played strong tennis this time for a 6-1, 6-1 victory.
“I thought actually I could beat her, but she was just more intense than I was and wanted it more,” Hefley said. “That’s fine.”
Hefley finished her season with a 26-8 record.
“Amber had a good year,” said coach Lynn Wiebe. “She is a talented tennis player and competed well against the top players in the state.
“She played very well both Friday and Saturday,” Wiebe added. “She exhibited extreme mental toughness and good physical endurance.”
Note-Megan Vogel’s performance at last week’s regional tournament in Hillsboro was inadvertently omitted from last week’s coverage.
The Trojan junior defeated Christine Healey of Kansas City Christian in the first round, 6-4, 6-1, before losing to state-qualifier Sally Ebright of Lyons in the second round, 0-6, 1-6.