By Staff for &

            MAIZE – In their first double elimination invitational of the season on the road at Maize South on Monday, the McPherson Middle School girls tennis team rose to the occasion and brought home a pair of individual champions as well as the team championship.

            Overall, the Junior Lady Pups scored 44 points to finish one point ahead of Andover for the team championship while Andover Central and Maize South rounded out the top four of eight teams competing. Other teams in the invitational were Newton, Maize, Valley Center and Derby North.

            “It was a hot day on the courts,” noted coach Henry Weiner. “But all nine of our players rose to the challenge, fighting through double-elimination to enjoy excellent finishes. Overall, it was a great day of tennis, and a great win for the team.”

            Ava Miller brought home one of the individual championships as she went unbeaten at 4-0 on the day to claim first at number three singles.

            Coach Weiner said, “Ava (Miller) played great today, hitting good serves, covering the court extremely well, and finding weaknesses to exploit in her opponents’ games.”

            The tandem of McKenna Paul and Piper Van Campen scored the other individual championship by going 4-0 in number two doubles.

            “McKenna (Paul) and Piper (Van Campen) played very well together, dominating at the net and playing consistent tennis throughout to earn a first-place finish,” pointed out coach Weiner.

            As the rest of the team, Audra Sandbo at number one singles and Dragon Rodriguez playing number two singles both finished the day 3-2 and earned themselves silver, second-place medals.

            Speaking of the singles competition, coach Weiner said, “All three girls showed toughness in fighting through some tough conditions. Audra (Sandbo) played extremely well in her first Middle School tournament, seeing some of her toughest competition of the year. She is a very crafty player, using the windy conditions and court position to move her opponents around the court. Dragon (Rodriguez) also fought hard throughout the day, playing very consistent tennis to beat three opponents, and playing an incredibly tough and gritty final that could have gone either way.”

            Making it a clean sweep of either first or second place finishes for the day, the Junior Lady Pup combo of Avery Unruh and Quinn Liebl went 3-1 and placed second in number one doubles while the duo of Breanna Sullivan and Emily Reno finished the day 4-2 and also in second at number three doubles.

            Coach Weiner concluded his post-invitational reflections by saying, “It was great to see strong doubles play from all three of our doubles teams, working well together and bouncing back from adversity to all finish in either first or second place. Avery (Unruh) and Quinn (Liebl) played tough, beating a talented Andover team in a dramatic tiebreaker in their first match but falling short in the number one doubles final. Their teamwork, support for each other, and growth as a team has been wonderful to watch this season. Breanna (Sullivan) and Emily (Reno) dropped an early match to Valley Center, then showed incredible toughness and grit to come back through the consolation bracket and beating the same Valley Center team in the process to play in the number three doubles final.”

MMS JUNIOR LADY PUPS at Maize South Invitational

TEAM STANDINGS: 1. JUNIOR LADY PUPS 44; 2. Andover 43; 3. Andover Central 32; 4. Maize South 29; 5. Maize 26; 6. Newton 18; 7. Valley Center 18; 8. Derby North 6.


#1 Singles: Audra Sandbo – 2nd; went 3-2

#2 Singles: Dragon Rodriguez – 2nd, went 3-2

#3 Singles: Ava Miller – 1st, went 4-0

#1 Doubles: Avery Unruh/Quinn Liebl – 2nd, went 3-1

#2 Doubles: McKenna Paul/Piper Van Campen – 1st, went 4-0

#3 Doubles: Breanna Sullivan/Emily Reno – 2nd, went 4-2

(The Staff covering McPherson County Activities can be reached by email at