The McPherson High Invitational Tennis Tournament on Saturday was somewhat of a forerunner to next month’s Class 4A State Tournament.
The top three ranked teams in 4A — Wichita Collegiate, McPherson High and Independence — were all on hand.
While the list was impressive, it turned out to be somewhat of a tease. Collegiate brought only No. 1 singles player Lakelin Conrad among its Top 6, while Independence’s Zack Schroeder played doubles to take a break from his normal singles play. Conrad was second in the state last year in singles, one spot ahead of Schroeder.
Meanwhile, the no-messing-around Bullpups went with their pat lineup and the result was a resounding victory.
MHS scored 56 points to turn back Maize, which scored 47. Independence was third with 40 and Collegiate was fourth with 33.
Rounding out the team totals were Sacred Heart (29), Garden City (29), McPherson High’s second team (19) and Hutchinson (19).
Even though his team will have to wait until next month to see Collegiate and Independence at full strength, MHS coach Tyler Brown said there were still some spotlight matches that gave him a preview of what to expect down the road.
“Singles was even deeper than four guys,” Brown said. “You had 1, 2, 3 in 4A and if Zack (Schroeder) could have played and Collegiate could have brought (No. 2 player Easton) Ewy, it would have been really solid. But you had eight guys who were really good.”
Singles wound up going to Sacred Heart’s defending Class 3-2-1A state champion Stratton Brown, who lost only one game in rolling to the title. “He’s at just a different level,” said Tyler Brown, who said Stratton Brown is as good as any top player in the bigger classes.
Stratton Brown defeated MHS’ Andrew Snell 8-0 in the finals, though many of points featured long rallies. Snell had defeated teammate Jarrod Nowak 8-3 in the semifinals. Nowak wound up third with a scintillating 8-7 victory over Collegiate’s Conrad in a rock ‘em, sock ‘em match that had a lot of tremendous points.
“You had to bring your ‘A’ game on the singles draw,” Brown said. “Andrew is playing phenomenal right now. In the finals, Stratton (Brown) is at a different than about everybody in the state. Jarrod beating Conrad was a great win.”
Doubles didn’t have quite the drama as MHS’ duo of Nolan Schrader and Kaden Stewart powered their way to the championship, winning in the finals 8-1 over Kaden Jobe and Chase Schreiner of Maize. They lost eight games in their four matches.
“They’re just tough,” Brown said. “Nolan and Kaden, to win 8-1 in the finals against Maize, that’s impressive. They beat Jobe and Schreiner and they’ll be one of the top teams in 5A. They’ve got to be feeling good and they’re playing very well right now.”
MHS’ other doubles team of Hadley Hageman and Patrick Munsey took sixth place, which is where they were seeded.
“Our two doubles came through, they finished where I thought they would,” Brown said. “They’re coming on. I feel good about the way we’re playing.”
The top finish from the MHS JVs came from the all-freshman team of Jackson Schrader and Rhett Edmonson, as they were eighth in doubles. Also in doubles, Trey Hett and Thomas Smith were 12th. For the White team in singles, Aaron Carlson was 13th at No. 1 and Taylor Miller was 16th at No. 2.