The Abilene Cowgirl tennis team opened the 2018 season with a fourth place finish at the always-competitive Hesston Invitational Thursday afternoon.

The Cowgirls fell in line behind a three-way tie for first between Buhler, Hesston and McPherson.

“I feel good about our showing Thursday at Hesston,” Abilene head coach Megan Berry said. “Despite there being some nerves and first-tournament jitters, all the girls played well and fought through some challenges.” Senior Zoe Cooper made her first start of the season at number one singles and fought back to place fifth in the meet. She opened with a 1-8 loss to Wilkinson of Maize South that sent her to the backside of the bracket.

In her second match, Cooper defeated Holmes of Buhler 8-1 and then got by Huerta of McPherson 8-5.

“Zoe did great to come through and win the backside of the singles bracket,” Berry said.

Sophomore Bella Sims made her varsity debut at number two singles. The young Cowgirl tennis player was defeated by Malm of McPherson in the opening round 0-8 and by Wright of Smoky Valley 4-8. She finished the day with a 2-8 loss to Sellens of Maize South.

In doubles action, the Cowgirls number ones Kylie Coup and Shiann Olberding placed third with a strong showing out of the gate. The Abilene pair defeated Clark/Bowles of Smoky Valley 8-2 before a hard fought battle 7-8(3) to Bruce/Allen of McPherson. Coup/Olberding bounced back with an 8-5 win over DeMeyer/Hutton of Buhler.

“The number ones went 2-1 on the day and lost in a tough tiebreaker to McPherson in the semis,” Berry said. “They bounced back to win against a quality Buhler team, a win which will likely help us when it comes time for regionals.”

Seniors Brenna Riffel and Trinity Sampson went 2-1 in number two doubles to place second in the tournament. They opened with an 8-0 shutout of Martin/Dages from Hesston and then beat another Hesston team 8-3. They fell to Carlson/Achilies of McPherson 4-8 in the finals.

“The number two’s had a fantastic day and you could tell their experience as seniors really benefitted them,” Berry said. “It’s great to have quality matches right from the get go and that’s what this tournament provides for us.”

Abilene next travels to Chapman to compete in the Chapman Quad on Thursday, Aug. 30. The junior varsity is in action Tuesday at Beloit.

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