BUHLER — McPherson High boys tennis coach Tyler Brown took a gamble and it paid off.
In an attempt to win the AVCTL Division III-IV championship on Monday in Buhler, Brown threw a curveball at the rest of the league by shaking up his lineup to where he thought the Bullpups could score the most points possible.
And they did just that by taking first place.
The Bullpups, ranked No. 2 in Class 4A, outlasted No. 1-ranked Wichita Collegiate 65-63 as the teams have taken turns this season swapping victories. Buhler was a distant third with 42.
“I was very pleased with our team’s play today,” Brown said. “We mixed things up today to give us the best chance to win league and it worked. Regionals will be a different element though and some tough decisions may need to be made by Thursday.”
Nolan Schrader and Jarrod Nowak steamed their way to the No. 1 doubles title, while No. 2 singles player Kaden Stewart cruised to the title in his division. MHS’ other entries, Andrew Snell at No. 1 singles and the No. 2 doubles team of Patrick Munsey and Hadley Hageman, were second in their respective divisions.
For the moment, the new-look lineup drew raves from Brown.
“Nolan and Jarrod looked unbelievable leading in team points, winning the finals against Collegiate's Conrad and Gartner 6-1, 6-3,” Brown said. “Kaden Stewart also rolled to his title only dropping two games the entire day. Andrew Snell had a great day beating Edwards from Wellington 6-3, 6-3 in the semifinals, but ended up running out of steam losing a tough one to Ewy (of Colleigate) in the final 7-6 (3), 6-3. Patrick and Hadley also looked good, but lost a tough one to Collegiate (in the finals) 7-5, 6-1.”
It was the first time this year Brown had paired Nowak and Schrader and their play certainly gave him plenty to think about. Nowak was fifth in the state in singles last year, while Schrader won a state doubles title as a freshman and was second in the state in doubles last year. It’s all about how the Bullpups can put together the right combination to topple Collegiate, which is the state favorite.
McPherson competes on Thursday and Friday in the regional at Buhler.
“Points are totally different for regionals and state compared to league, so we have to decide how we will want to go for that, but the main goal will be qualify all six guys into state,” Brown said.