Independence’s Zack Schroeder represents the present of Class 4A tennis, having taken third place in singles last year and in the hunt as the top challenger to Topeka Hayden’s three-time state champion Tommy Hunter for this year’s finals.
McPherson High’s Jarrod Nowak is the future of the class, a promising freshman who has state championship aspirations in his career.
The present and future collided for the second time this season, with Nowak improving his record against Schroeder to 2-0 with an 8-6 victory in the finals of Saturday’s McPherson Invitational. That could be important come state tournament time in terms of seeding purposes, especially if both are regional champions.
“Jarrod kind of rolled today until he got to Zack in the finals,” MHS coach Tyler Brown said. “He was actually up with a nice-sized lead and Zack did a great job of battling back. At one point I thought Jarrod was going to be able to win 8-2 and have an impressive win, but Zack found his way back into the match. Soon it was 7-6 and we needed to win one more to close it out.”
MHS, the No. 1-ranked team in Class 4A, remained unbeaten in tournament play with 55 points. Class 6A power Maize was just behind with 49, while Independence, the No. 3 team in Class 4A, scored 42. Wichita Collegiate, the No. 2 team in 4A, was fourth with 38.
Salina Central (26), Hutchinson (17), McPherson White (14) and Garden City (13) completed the strong field.’
Brown once again shuffled his lineup as he didn’t have it set like he will come regional time.
“Part of today’s lineup was just giving Nolan (Schrader) a break from doubles and letting him hit more balls playing singles,” Brown said. “We won the tournament, but our doubles finished fifth and sixth. I was impressed with Maize, they’re going to be tough to beat. They don’t even have Miles Medaris playing for them right now because I believe he’s injured.”
Schrader took third place in singles, while the MHS doubles teams of Kento Aizawa-Kaden Stewart and Andrew Snell-Hadley Hageman were fifth and sixth, respectively, with 3-1 and 2-2 records.
“This group continues to amaze me,” Brown said. “They are all about the team. Everyone of them when I talk to them says they will play wherever I ask them to for the greater good of the team. Other teams I see send lineups all over the state and it seems like they play in tournaments more as individuals. What we focus on in McPherson is about a team experience and achieving new heights all together. Some schools may not even of had certain players play one tournament yet for their school and we are in Week 5 of a nine-week season. The atmosphere we try to create I feel is unmatched in Central Kansas.”
For the second MHS entry, Patrick Munsey and Jace Kinnamon lost their first doubles match, but came back with four straight wins to earn a ninth-place medal. Trey Hett and Thomas Smith were 14th by going 1-3.
In singles, Price Kramer and Lorenzo Cornelius were 12th and 15th, respectively.
The Bullpups have a huge week coming up and their state ranking will be tested. They head to Maize on Thursday and play in the Wichita Collegiate Tournament of Champions on Saturday, a tournament generally even tougher than 4A State.