Connect four! SM East girls tennis takes fourth consecutive state tennis title

SM East's girls tennis team shows off the 2014 6A girls state title trophy. Photo courtesy Elizabeth Barnickel.
SM East’s girls tennis team shows off the 2014 6A girls state title trophy. Photo courtesy Elizabeth Barnickel.

SM East’s girls tennis team on Friday cruised to yet another state tennis title — the school’s fourth 6A girls tennis championship in as many years.

Senior Elizabeth Barnickel helped propel the Lancers to the team win by taking the state singles title, a fitting way to cap a high school career that saw her challenge the best players in the state her freshman, sophomore and junior years only to come up just short. Barnickel finished fifth overall in the state as a freshman, and then third overall both her sophomore and junior years. On Saturday, she easily handled Washburn Rurual’s Madeline Hill in the title match, winning 6-0, 6-2.

“I had some really close matches my previous years,” Barnickel said. “It was awesome to get first this year.”

Senior Stephanie Wilcox also played a key role for the Lancers, taking the third place singles trophy and teaming with junior Aidan Epstein to take third in the doubles tournament.

The team title puts the Lancers in very rare though not unprecedented territory. Since the KSHSAA began awarding team tennis titles in 1989, just one other school — Blue Valley North from 2004-2007 — has won four consecutive girls titles.

SM East coach Sue Chipman said the streak was the result of “a lot of time and effort” from the players.

“For those kids who are seniors going out, this is obviously the best record they could have,” she said.

Barnickel is planning to play tennis for the Air Force Academy after graduation.