Mitchell’s chances of earning the top step on the winner’s platform at the completion of play at the Class A state girls tennis tournament on Tuesday didn’t look promising. The Kernels trailed Yankton after Monday’s day one. And the Gazelles advanced the top seeds to the finals in both flight 1 and 2 singles and doubles.
Nor did chances brighten after Yankton won three of the six singles flight championships including the flight 1 and 2 crowns.
Upsets needed, upsets done as Mitchell added the big points available in doubles play by upsetting top-seeded Yankton in both the Flight 1 and 2 doubles to edge Yankton (492.5-484.5) to win the team title. Aberdeen Roncalli (390) finished third followed by Rapid City Christian (359) and Milbank (257.5).
The two wins in doubles coupled with singles titles at flights 3 and 6 were sufficient to put Mitchell over the hump.
“It was the ultimate comeback, and I did not see it coming,” Mitchell coach Pat Moller said. “Everything kind of fell into place for us. We play some very tough competition during the year, and I take a little bit of heat for that, but when you watched this tournament you saw that our girls were ready to step up and play when it mattered most.”
Though Rapid City Christian failed to win a state title in either singles or doubles, the Lady Comets competed well, earning three second-place medals, including at Flight 1 where sophomore Ella Hancock lost in three sets, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, to No. 1 seeded Josephine Krajewski of Yankton.
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“That was the best I’ve seen Ella play all year,” Rapid City Christian coach Teresa Postma said. “She played so hard and could have won, and I was so proud watching her today.”
Senior Paige Wagner completed her prep career with a second-place finish, falling to Allison Schock of Roncalli 6-2, 6-4 in the Flight 4 championship match. And the doubles duo of Mia Shankle and Anna Ligtenberg placed second in Flight 3.
Junior Bridget Schneller bounced back from a semifinal loss to Yankton’s Maggie Schaefer, the eventual winner of the flight, to defeat Aberdeen’s Hallie Haskell 10-6 for third in Flight 2, and Mia Shankle earned a third-place medal as well in Flight 6 defeating Jemini Cantalope of Aberdeen Roncalli 10-8.
Other place finishers for the Lady Comets included junior Julia Anderson (fourth in Flight 3 singles) and the Flight 1 doubles duo of Hancock and Wagner (fifth).
"Though we finished fourth, I’m not disappointed at all,” Postma said. “We had a fantastic day today. The girls played their hearts out and performed better than expected so I’m really pleased with the effort and results.”