Bringing back just two players from last year’s National Tournament team, this year might have been looked at as a rebuilding year for Seward County Women’s Tennis. After going up against some of the nation’s best at the ITA Regional Tournament in Seminole, Oklahoma and faring quite well, this year’s Lady Saints team proved that they expect to be right back in the desert of Arizona when the National Tournament starts next Spring.
After receiving a first round bye in her first match on Friday Fanny Benincasa defeated Jessica Montemayor of Cowley 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to advance to the round of 8 on Saturday where she knocked off Seminole State’s Natalia Khakimova 7-6, 3-6, 7-6 and Karla Martinez of New Mexico Military 2-6, 7-6, 6-3 to advance to the Regional Championship match Sunday morning. In the championship match Benincasa ran up against one of the best players in the country in Cowley’s Adrijana Pavlovic who she lost to 6-0, 6-0 but still finished 2nd in the group of 32. Along with Benincasa’s deep run in the tournament, Ekaterina Gabashvili decided she would take a shot at the consolation bracket championship after getting beat in the first round of the championship bracket. After dropping Brittany Laner of Cowley in the Quarterfinals 6-2, 6-1, Gabashvili found herself in the final four where she played an epic battle with Akanesi Fe of NMMI, losing a heartbreaker 7-6, 4-6, 9-11 to finish 3rd in the consolation bracket. In doubles play Benincasa and Gabashvili teamed up to put on another nice show finishing 3rd after beating Haley Craig and Kasey Spencer of Johnson County 5-7, 6-4, 10-8 in the tournament quarterfinals. In the tournament’s ‘B’ consolation bracket the Seward County duo’s of Antigone Lowery and Shaley Thomas took on Sylvia Perez and Paulo Verdasca in the final four, a match in which Lowery and Thomas took 6-1, 6-1 to reach the final match where they lost 7-5, 6-2.
In their last competition of the fall the Lady Saints took on the Lady Cougars of Barton County. In singles play the Lady Saints took 4 out of 6 matches including wins from Benincasa, Lowery, Thomas, and Perez (default). Thomas’ victory might have been most impressive as the athletic sophomore dropped the first set 6-2 before battling back to take the 2nd set 7-5 and the 3rd 11-9. The doubles combo of Benincasa and Gabashvili wrapped up a solid fall campaign with a 7-5, 3-6, 10-1 win to give the Lady Saints a 5-4 victory on the day against the reigning Region 6 runners-up. Head Coach Darin Workman was pleased with his team’s effort on the week saying “I could put a lot of different girls at a lot of different positions right now and they would still have a good chance of winning. It is a good problem to have when you have multiple players that can play in your #1 spot.”