BUHLER — For McPherson High boys tennis coach Tyler Brown, it was mission accomplished.
But it was also bittersweet.
Brown’s Bullpups easily won their Class 4A regional on Friday, with his singles entries Andrew Snell and Jarrod Nowak finishing 1-2, while his top doubles team of Kaden Stewart and Nolan Schrader also advanced by taking second place.
But for seniors Hadley Hageman and Patrick Munsey, the season came to an end as they did not advance.
“My heart goes out to my seniors that played in the Buhler regional, Hadley Hageman and Patrick Munsey, that did not qualify for state,” Brown said. “When you are at this point in the year, you just hope that you can play up to your potential. I truly feel if we play that doubles bracket again, nine times out of 10 they win that first match of the day. I love those guys, they have been with me for all four years and I know that is not how they wanted to finish the year. But they showed the senior leadership getting back in the van for Day 2 and showed these underclassman what it means to be an awesome teammate today. I'm not emotional from the tennis match loss, but that I will never get to coach these seniors again. Both Hadley and Patrick are not just great tennis players, they are awesome human beings and I couldn't be more proud of them. I will not just miss seeing them on the court, I miss the little things whether it's getting to greet Hadley at church and watching his amazing talent on the piano or getting to say grace at Patrick's house at team meals and share in his family’s hospitality. The relationships and memories will never be forgotten.”
The team outcome was never in doubt as the Bullpups scored 19 points, with no other team in double figures. Andover Central and Buhler scored 9, with Central winning the tiebreaker.
Snell will take a 26-7 record to state and Nowak is 20-5. Snell was a 6-3, 6-2 winner in the singles final. Last year it was Nowak who finished fifth in the state and Snell was sixth, but Snell has really ramped up his game this year.
The doubles final was a dandy as Stewart and Schrader lost to Abilene’s Jacob Berven and Jase West, who are now 18-1 on the year. They won in straight sets, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) over Stewart and Schrader, who are 21-3.
“We met our goal of winning an absolute loaded regional, but fell a little short on getting the entire team into state,” Brown said. “Andrew Snell played lights-out over these two days and defeated his teammate Jarrod Nowak in the finals. Nolan Schrader and Kaden Stewart had a great tournament as well, but lost in the finals to a very good Abilene team.”
Smoky Valley qualified its top doubles team of Nick Reinert and Johann Rauchholz, who took fourth and are 24-8 on the year. Cole Brumbaugh also moves on in singles as he was fourth and is 18-12 on the year.
The Class 4A State Tournament begins Friday in Prairie Village with Wichita Collegiate probably a solid favorite since it qualified its entire team. MHS and Independence also will be contenders, with the Bulldogs also getting all their entries in.