Comeback tops great state day for Bison tennis

Friday, May 19, 2017
Senior Katie Kjendal takes charge at the net while No. 2 doubles partner Syd Thompson (right) handled baseline patrol as McCook rallied for a Class B state quaterfinal win over Ogallala on Thursday in Lincoln.
Gayl Korus

R.B. Headley

Gazette Sports Editor

LINCOLN, Neb. —Move over, Grand Island and Omaha, because the McCook Bison are making a beeline towards potential Class B state tennis titles today.

The Bison have moved five players into today’s Class B semifinals while earning a share of first place in overall team standings.

McCook, Omaha Duchesne and Grand Island Central Catholic all scored 32 points on Thursday.

Quite an improvement over other great seasons like 2016 when the Bison finished 10th.

“We’ve put ourselves in position,” coach Matt Wiemers confirmed during a phone call this morning as he watched junior Cassiddy Beeby begin No. 1 singles consolations. “We’ve got some big matches ahead of us today.”

Beeby (28-13 record) conquered her opening match before dropping a tough quarterfinal to No. 2 seed Kristal Kuo from Elhorn (27-3 record).

She could have scored huge consolation points today starting with a match against familiar foe Victoria Fattig from Lexington.

Unfortunately, No. 6-seed Fattig won 6-2, 6-2 over No. 7 Beeby.

Every other Bison will pursue semifinal and perhaps even state finals success.

Whoever wants a No. 2 doubles title will probably have to go around the long arms of 6’ senior Katie Kjendal.

Kjendal and junior Syd Thompson (34-3 record) have all sorts of momentum after rallying for McCook’s most exciting win Thursday.

After a dismal 6-2 defeat to start their quarterfinal match, Kjendal and Thompson rallied for 7-5/6-1 wins over Ogallala mainly by focusing each player’s strengths.

“Katie’s really good at the net. She’s 6’ tall with long arms that are very tough to hit around,” Wiemers explained. “And Syd is probably our most consistent player who’s very good playing the baseline. She hit a lot of shots that helped set up Katie to attack the net.”

The super rally means Kjendal and Thompson return to their other great comeback win against Kearney Catholic’s Sarah Oldfather and Annie Trettel.

Seeded second, the K.C. duo suffered its only defeat (20-1) when Kjendal/Thompson rallied from 6-1 down to beat them 8-6 last month.

Meanwhile, one Bison’s clearly aiming for state finals redemption.

Sophomore Cassidy Michaelis — the undefeated No. 2 singles top seed — improved to 41-0 this season. She smashed through her two foes on Thursday, winning 24 games while losing only two.

Michaelis was 44-0 last year until she dropped a three-set classic Class B championship match.

“We walked off the court knowing the title was hers,” Wiemers said as Michaelis had won the opening finals set. “It’s definitely been in the back of our minds all year.”

Now she faces Holdrege junior Katelyn Kfeller (31-11) in today’s semifinals which started around 11 a.m.

“We like that matchup with Holdrege, and figure she’ll play the girl from Grand Island CC (No. 2 Brynn Sealock) in the finals,” the coach concluded. “That will be a big match, both individually and for the teams.”

McCook’s “other” amazing 41-0 players will get ready for their own state semifinal today.

Seniors Kacee Samway and Lauren Koetter bounced both their No. 1 doubles foes by a 24-3 final count on Thursday.

They enter a huge semifinal today against Omaha Duchesne seniors Meghan Main and Sophia Schack (20-4).

A win not only put these Bison in state finals, it could give them more crucial points over Duchesne.

No matter what happens, McCook was ready to celebrate another great achievement.

The comeback vs. Ogallala gave Thompson her 100th career win — meaning all six of these Bison varsity girls have topped 100 victories.

“That’s pretty awesome,” Wiemers concluded. “We will definitely celebrate that.”

McCook’s matches through each round of the state tennis tournament on Thursday:

First round

No. 1 singles: Cassidy Beeby won 6-0/6-2 over H. Thiesen, Hastings St. Cecilia. No. 2 doubles: Katie Kjendal/Syd Thompson won 6-4/6-0 over S. Gerloff/M.Konen, Adams Central.

Sweet 16

No. 1 singles: Beeby won 6-3/6-1 over M. Herman, Ogallala. No. 2 singles: Kassidy Michaelis won 6-0, 6-0 over B. Eschenbrenner, Kearney Catholic. No. 1 doubles: Kacee Samway/Lauren Koetter won 6-0/6-1 over N. Shundoff/E. Saadi, Kearney Catholic. No. 2 doubles: Kjendal/Thompson won 6-4/6-2 over M. Jacobi/M. Hurt, Adams Central.

Quarterfinals

No. 1 singles: Beeby lost 6-0, 6-4 to K. Kuo, Elkhorn. No. 2 singles: Michaelis won 6-1/6-1 over A. Sandoval, Crete. No. 1 doubles: Koetter/Samway won 6-0, 6-2 over M. McDougall/N. Mittman, York. No. 2 doubles: Kjendal/Thompson won 2-6/7-5/6-1 over L. Fair/M. Mendoza, Ogallala.

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