The Seward County Lady Saints Tennis team will be headed back to the desert this season after qualifying for the NJCAA National Tournament for the 6th consecutive season with a 3rd place finish at last weekend’s Region VI Tournament. Lindy Kowalchuk led Seward with 6 total points on the weekend, winning her #6 singles bracket as well as her #3 doubles bracket with partner Marcela Abrantes while two other Lady Saints singles players and both of the other doubles pairs finished 2nd in the tournament.

In #1 singles play the Lady Saints Dariya Dashutina picked up 1.5 points after dropping her opening match 6-7, 6-4, 6-4 to Haley Craig of Johnson County but bouncing back win the 3rd place match over Barton’s Hanna Ukhal 6-0, 6-0. Fanny Benincasa earned 2 points for Seward in #2 singles with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Ukhal in her first match before falling in the title match 6-1, 6-2 to Zsofia Biro of Cowley in the title match. Kauana Goncalves rebounded nicely from a 6-0, 6-2 loss in her first tilt of the tournament to Marijana Gjorgjevska of Johnson County by winning her 3rd place match in #3 singles 6-0, 6-1 over Karlsa Kaiser of Barton to pick up 1.5 points for Seward. Salitza Abrantes would follow in Goncalves’ shoes as she dropped her first match in the #4 singles bracket in a hard fought 7-6, 2-6, 7-6 decision to Brittney Berryman of Cowley before taking home 3rd place with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Ashley Goudey of Barton in her final match of the tournament. Marcela Abrantes knocked off Liz Walters of Johnson County easily by the score of 6-0, 6-1 in her first round matchup but would fall 6-2, 6-0 to Mariah Vargas of Cowley in the championship match to pick up 2 points for Seward in #5 singles. Kowalchuk was the big winner on the weekend for the Lady Saints as she won a grueling three hour match against Catherine Callitti of Johnson County 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 in their first round matchup before playing and winning another marathon match 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 in the championship match against Shelby Cornejo of Cowley to be crowned Region VI Champion in #6 singles.
The Lady Saints would fare very well in doubles play where the duo’s of Dashutina/Benincasa, Goncalves/S. Abrantes, and M. Abrantes/Kowalchuk all won their first round matches and had the chance to play for the region championships. In #1 doubles Dahutina/Benincasa beat Craig/Cooper from Johnson County 6-2, 6-3 in the first round before falling 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 in the championship match to Davinia/Biro of Cowley to finish as runners-up with 2 points. In #2 doubles S. Abrantes/Goncalves beat Berryman/Cornejo of Cowley in round one 6-1, 7-6 and dropped a heartbreaker 7-5, 7-5 to Gjorgjevksa/Hertling of Johnson County in the championship match to also finish as runners-up with 2 points. M. Abrantes/Kowalchuk took down their first round opponents Kaiser/Richard of Barton easily 6-1, 6-1 before wrapping up a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 win in the championship match over Evans/Craig of Cowley to become Region VI Champions in #3 doubles.
Seward finished in a second place tie with Johnson County with 18.5 total points but would lose the tie-breaker to officially finish 3rd in the tournament. They advance to the NJCAA National Tournament yet again and will have their highest expectations in recent years as they will head to Tucson as the 12th ranked team in the country. The tournament will start May 6th and will run through May 13th with pairings yet to be announced.