Iola hits the courts in style



August 27, 2021 - 1:31 PM

Kiera Fawson returns a shot during a tennis match Thursday at Chanute. Fawson went 4-0 on the day. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

CHANUTE — With tennis action frequently as hot as the weather, Iola High’s girls opened the 2021 season in fine fashion Thursday.

The Mustangs took second as a team at the Chanute invitational, spearheaded by singles players Miah Shelby and Kiera Fawson.

Shelby, playing in the no. 1 singles slot, went 3-1 on the day, dropping a match only to Chanute’s Aimee Maxton, 8-1. Prior to that, Shelby steamrolled past Neodesha’s Kelsey Cox, 8-3, Jozie Robinson of Columbus, 8-3, and Labette County’s Katie Zwahlen, 8-2.

Iola High’s Miah Shelby returns the ball in a tennis match Thursday in Chanute.Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

Fawson, playing in no. 2 singles, went one better, sweeping past all four of her opponents. Fawson thumped Neodesha’s Charlee Anderson and Lizzy Welch of Columbus, both by identical 8-0 scores. She then was leading Labette County’s Molly Leonard, 6-3, before Leonard withdrew from the match.

Fawson’s final match of the day was a thriller. She was extended to a tiebreaker against Chanute’s Rylee Smith before prevailing with an 8-7 (8-6) victory.

Meanwhile, the doubles teams continue to show improvement, head coach Chris Belknap said.

Iola High’s Rebekah Coltrane approaches a shot Thursday in Chanute.Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

Rebekah Coltrane and Charlie Peters went 1-3 in no.1 doubles.

They fell, 8-2, to Jill DeLong and Caitlyn Morrison of Neodesha, before rebounding nicely to roll past Rebecca Green and Jaylei Carriger of Columbus, 8-2. The Mustang duo ended with losses of 8-1 to Lakin Ginger and Brookelynn Farmer of Labette County, and 8-0 to Tyra Bogle and Grace Thompson of Chanute.

“Charlie is finding her place as a tennis player and having fun,” Belknap said of the foreign exchange student who up until tennis season had never participated in competitive sports.

“The team plays well together and keeps in good spirits,” Belknap said. “Rebekah has made some great improvements since her first year last season.”

Meanwhile, Iola’s no. 2 doubles team of Genevive Ward and Kennedy Maier went 0-4 on the day, a deceptive score because many of their games weren’t decided until late in the set.

They fell, 8-2, to Neodesha’s McKenzie Morrison and Jordyn Williams, 8-4 to Brooklyn Lyma and Sophie Lloyd of Columbus, 8-3 to Brooklyn Farmer and Shelby Blackburn of Labette County and 8-0 to Chanute’s Lena Aguilar and Hannah Langen.

“They were having the best time playing,” Belknap said. “I asked them multiple times how they were doing, and they said, ‘Doing great, Coach,’ The duo had some great shots … forcing their opponents to work for it.”

Host Chanute easily captured the team title with 14 points. Iola’s eight points edged out Labette County and Columbus for second. 

With temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90s, and the heat index well above 100, Belknap said staying hydrated was key.