By RICK PETERSON
Hayden girls tennis stars Lauren Sandstrom and Emily Sheetz are sure to feel at least a few butterflies when they take the court Friday and Saturday in Winfield to defend their Class 4A state doubles championship.
But there's also a definite comfort level for Sandstrom, a senior, and junior Sheetz, who are playing together at state for the third straight season and shooting for their third straight state medal. The Hayden stars finished seventh in 2021 before winning the state title last fall as the Wildcats claimed the 4A team championship.
Sandstrom, who also qualified for state as a freshman in singles, said she expects the duo's state experience to pay off this weekend at the T.H. Vaughan Tennis Center.
"I think we'll go in pretty comfortable the first day, knowing that we have that No. 1 seed and we know what that looks like from last year, but going into that second day it's going to be like, 'We've got to win this. We've got to get that repeat.' '' Sandstrom said. "There are some nerves, but I think we'll get past it and I think we'll be OK.''
Sandstrom and Sheetz take a 29-3 record into the state meet and have been installed as the No. 1 seed.
Sandstrom said her biggest emotion at state may come from the fact that she knows this is her final year of tennis and this weekend is her final tournament with Sheetz.
"It's been in back of my mind all season and these past two weeks it's been kind of sad,'' Sandstrom said. "I don't want to stop playing tennis but I'm just hoping that we get to go out with a bang.''
"I'm a little nervous because it's Lauren's senior year and I just don't want to disappoint her,'' Sheetz said. "It's our last time playing together this weekend, so I think I'm a little nervous about that but I'm pretty confident in both of us that we'll have a good weekend and end strong.''
After finishing second in the city meet, Sandstrom and Sheetz rolled to Centennial League and 4A regional championships to tune up for state.
"We've had a lot of confidence this year in ourselves and just us as a team,'' Sheetz said. "We just want to play our best this weekend and end on a good note.''
Sandstrom and Sheetz will have plenty of company in the state tournament, with Hayden qualifying its entire team for state while capturing the regional team title.
The Wildcats also qualified sophomore Grace Funk and junior Sofia Sexton in singles and the sophomore doubles team of Izzy Glotzbach and Avery O'Bray.
Funk (17-13) placed 10th in the state tournament a year ago and placed second in the regional tournament while Sexton (12-18) qualified for state with a sixth-place regional finish.
Funk is the No. 10 singles seed for state and Sexton the No. 24 seed.
Glotzbach and O'Bray (15-15) finished fourth at regionals and are the No. 15 seed in the state doubles field.
The first round of state competition will get under way at 10 a.m. Friday.
Class 6A at Junction City
Washburn Rural and Topeka High combined for nine state qualifiers for this weekend's Class 6A state meet at Junction City.
Regional team champion Rural qualified its entire team for state out of last Saturday's regional tournament at Wichita while Topeka High qualified a singles player and a doubles team.
Rural, which has won city, Centennial League and regional team championships, swept the singles and doubles titles at regionals, with junior Carolina Chedzoy taking the singles championship and seniors Claire Ireland and Gabby Martinez winning the doubles title.
Chedzoy is 19-8 on the season and has been installed as the No. 11 singles seed for the 6A state tournament while Ireland and Martinez are 26-5 this fall and are the No. 6 doubles seed.
Juniors Emerie Catlin and Izzy Haggard (21-7) are coming off a runnerup doubles finish at regionals and are the No. 8 state seed.
Rural senior singles player Mena Di Marzio earned a state berth for the second straight season with a fourth-place regional finish, but Di Marzio (22-6) suffered a season-ending injury in the regional tournament.
Topeka High's senior singles player McCall Beall earned her third state berth with a fifth-place regional finish while the Trojan doubles team of senior Siena Boiteau and sophomore Ava Ritter qualified for their first state tournament with a fourth-place regional finish.
Beall is 22-5 on the season and is the No. 20 singles seed for state while Boiteau and Ritter are 18-13 and the No. 19 doubles seed.
The first round of state competition will begin at 10 a.m. Friday.
Class 5A at Salina
City standouts are on the short list of title contenders for Class 5A state championships this weekend in Salina.
Shawnee Heights junior Jette Glasenapp is the No. 2 state seed in singles while Seaman senior Katie Krumins and sophomore Molly Gorman are the No. 2 state doubles seed.
Glasenapp and the team of Krumins and Gorman have swept city, United Kansas Conference and regional championships.
Glasenapp, a foreign exchance student from Germany, will take a 33-2 record into the state tournament while Krumins and Gorman are 19-2 after finishing 12th at state a year ago.
Seaman qualified its entire team for state, winning the team championship in last Saturday's regional tournament at Kossover Tennis Center.
Seaman junior Sidney Chinn (21-12) posted a third-place regional finish and is the No. 14 singles seed for state while Viking senior Kate Eckert and freshman Camryn Lux (16-5) finished second at regionals and are the No. 13 state doubles seed.
The 5A state tournament will start at 10 a.m. Friday.
CITY STATE TENNIS QUALIFIERS
Topeka High -- Singles: McCall Beall, sr., 22-5. Doubles: Siena Boiteau, sr., and Ava Ritter, so., 18-13.
Washburn Rural -- Singles: Carolina Chedzoy, jr., 19-8; Mena DiMarzio, sr., 22-6 (injured). Doubles: Claire Ireland, sr., and Gabby Martinez, sr., 26-5; Emerie Catlin, jr., and Izzy Haggard, jr., 21-7.
Seaman -- Singles: Emma Sweeney, fr., 23-10; Sidney Chinn, jr., 21-12. Doubles: Katie Krumins, sr., and Molly Gorman, so., 19-2; Kate Eckert, sr., and Camryn Lux, fr., 16-5.
Shawnee Heights -- Singles: Jette Glasenapp, jr., 33-2.
Hayden -- Singles: Grace Funk, so., 17-13; Sofia Sexton, jr., 12-18. Doubles: Lauren Sandstrom, sr., and Emily Sheetz, jr., 29-3; Izzy Glotzbach, so., and Avery O'Bray, so., 15-15.