From the Kingdom of Thailand comes the latest hope for a state medal for the Newton High School girls’ tennis team.
Foreign exchange student Rae Normai finished 4-0 Tuesday to claim the title of the Newton Invitational at the Phil Scott Tennis Courts at Newton High School and the Marty Ward Tennis Courts at Bethel College.
Normai downed top-seeded Kelsie Burr of Arkansas City 9-3 in the championship match. Burr is a former state champion in doubles.
“It was great,” Normai said. “I liked it. I had more confidence (as the match went on). I was able to hit the ball where I wanted it. I tried to serve really hard so she can’t return it. I also played on the baseline.”
Normai is from Rayong, which is on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand.
“I started playing when I was six,” Normai said. “My mother was always cheering me. She also was my coach.”
Normai said she enjoys the team concept of high school tennis.
“We had dinner together,” she said. “It was really awesome.”
Normai said her goal for the season was to make it to state and “do as well as I can.”
Newton was fifth out of eight teams in the team standings. Salina Central won the tournament with 54 points, followed by Arkansas City with 44. Winfield and Andover tied for third at 38, followed by Newton at 33, Derby at 28, Campus at 20 and Wichita Trinity Academy at 14. Central finished 1-2 in double play to help clinch the team title.
In the finals, Normai jumped ahead 3-0, but then gave up the next three games. Normai rebounded to win the final five for the match.
“Rae has been a nice surprise for the team,” Newton coach Nick Sisson said. “She is a foreign exchange student, who has played competitive tennis before. She’s a very nice surprise and a very good player. She’s used to playing on hard courts. She’s used to competitive tennis, but hasn’t played in a couple of years. She is getting better at each match. The Ark City girl was a state champion at doubles last year. She gave Rae three or four tough games there, so it was nice to see how she reacted to that.”
Newton’s Quinn Rhodes placed 10th in singles, finishing 2-2.
In doubles play, the team of Cattie Arrowsmith and Kenzie Gillespie finished 11th at 2-2. The team of Ashley Schmidt and Faye Smith finished 14th at 1-3.
“We did pretty well,” Sisson said. “It was an improvement from the McPherson tournament last week. We moved Quinn Rhodes to singles and she did a nice job to finish in 10th, going 2-2 on the day. At one doubles with Arrowsmith and Gillespie, I thought they looked good. I liked the fact that they both like to attack the net together. We’re going to try and build on that and see where we can go for the season. Schmidt and Smith won a match as well.”
Newton competes Saturday at the Salina Invitational.
“St. James Academy will be there, and they are the number one team in the state,” Sisson said. “That will be good competition for us.”
Team scores — Salina Central 54, Arkansas City 44, Winfield 38, Andover 38, Newton 33, Derby 28, Campus 20, Wichita Trinity Academy 14.
First round — Kelsie Burr AC def. Haleigh Beals Cam. 8-0, Sophie Sarnacki Win. def. Elsa Cozine WTA 8-2, Meganne Nihart Win. def. Hannah Weers And. 8-5, Callie Sanborn SC def. Katrina Mason Der. 8-6, Rae Normai New. def. Briana Winter WTA 8-0, Emma Sinclair And. def. Livian Easton AC 8-0, Katie Benson SC def. Jessica Perea Der. 8-1, Amaya Molinar Cam. def. Quinn Rhodes New. 8-6.
Quarterfinals — Championship: Burr AC def. Sarnacki Win. 8-2, Sanborn SC def. Nihart Win. 8-2, Normai New. def. Sinclair And. 8-2, Benson SC def. Molinar Cam. 8-2. Consolation: Beals Cam. def. Cozine WTA 8-6, Mason Der. def. Weers And. 8-6, Eaton AC def. Winter WTA 8-2, Rhodes New. def. Perea Der. 8-1.
Semifinals — Championship: Burr AC def. Sanborn SC 8-1, Normai New. def. Benson SC 8-1. Fifth-place bracket: Nihart Win. def. Sarnacki Win. 8-3, Sinclair And. def. Molinar Cam. 8-0. Ninth-place bracket: Mason Der. def. Beals Cam. 8-0, Rhodes New. def. Eaton AC 8-3. 13th-place bracket: Weers And. def. Cozine WTA 8-3, Winter WTA def. Perea Der. 8-5.
Medal round — Championship: Normai New. def. Burr AC 8-3. Third: Benson SC def. Sanborn SC 8-1. Fifth: Sinclair And. def. Nihart Win. 8-1. Seventh: Molinar Cam. def. Sarnaki Win. 8-2. Ninth: Mason Der. def. Rhodes New. 8-3. 11th: Easton AC def. Beals Cam. 8-4. 13th: Weers And. def. Winter WTA 8-4. 15th: Cozine WTA def. Perea Der. 8-3.
First round — Stack-Holgerson SC def. Aune-Crumrine And. 8-2, Hoag-Kanelekos AC def. Keene-Cusick WTA 8-2, Anderson-Baker Der. def. Smith-Schmidt New. 8-2, Hild-Anderson And. def. Karr-Karr Win. 8-1, Walker-McChristian AC def. Taft-Weber WTA 8-0, Michaelis-Phelps SC def. Thanasouk-Baalman Cam. 8-1, Priest-Bounnongxay Win. def. Shipman-Nelson Cam. 8-1, Vinroe-Agpoon Der. def. Arrowsmith-Gillespie New. 8-4.
Quarterfinals — Championship: Stack-Holgerson SC def. Hoag-Kanelakos AC 8-3, Hild-Anderson And. def. Anderson-Baker Der. 8-3, Michaelis-Phelps SC def. Walker-McChristian AC 8-6, Priest-Bounnongxay Win. def. Vinroe-Agpoon Der. 8-6. Consolation: Aune-Crumrine And. def. Keene-Cusick WTA 8-1, Karr-Karr Win. def. Smith-Schmidt New. 8-6, Todd-Weber WTA def. Thanasouk-Baalman Cam. 8-6, Arrowsmith-Gillespie New. def. Shipman-Nelson Cam. 8-6.
Semifinals — Championship: Stack-Holgerson SC def. Hild-Anderson And. 8-0, Michaelis-Phelps SC def. Priest-Bounnongxay Win. 8-5. Fifth-place bracket: Hoag-Kanelakos AC def. Anderson-Baker Der. 8-2, Walker-McChristian AC def. Vinroe-Agpoon Der. 8-5. Ninth-place bracket: Aune-Crumrine And. def. Karr-Karr Win. n/a, Todd-Weber WTA def. Arrowsmith-Gillespie New. 8-4. 13th-place bracket: Smith-Schmidt New. def. Keene-Cusick WTA 8-7 (12-10), Thanasouk-Baalman Cam. def. Shipman-Nelson Cam. 8-1.
Medal round — Championship: Stack-Holgerson SC def. Michaelis-Phelps SC 8-1. Third: Hild-Anderson And. def. Priest-Bounnongxay Win. 8-4. Fifth: Walker-McChristian AC def. Hoag-Kanelakos AC 8-3. Seventh: Vinroe-Agpoon Der. def. Anderson-Baker Der. 8-4. Ninth: Aune-Crumrine And. def. Todd-Webet WTA 8-2. 11th: Arrowsmith-Gillespie New. def. Karr-Karr Win. 8-4. 13th: Thanasouk-Baalman Cam. def. Arrowsmith-Gillespie New. 8-6. 15th: Keene-Cusick WTA def. Shipman-Nelson Cam. 8-4.