You can excuse McPherson High’s Ryan and Peter Horton if they are still knocking off their tennis rust.
The Hortons recently were at the epicenter of the Bullpups’ Class 4A Division I state championship basketball run and are still decompressing.
So given their limited practice time, it was admirable they were able to come away with the doubles title in Monday’s McPherson Invitational, played in windy conditions at the MHS Tennis Complex.
The Bullpups as a team also came away with the first-place honor with 56 points, finishing ahead of 5A power Newton (42).
Other team scores were Winfield (33), Derby (32), Salina South (32), Great Bend (13) and Hays (10) as it was mainly a 6A-5A field.
“I was a little nervous when half the team called me to go and hit at various times Sunday afternoon,” MHS coach Tyler Brown said. “The boys seemed nervous, but anxious, for this first meet and it showed in the early rounds with several close matches. I felt like we really gave our opponents their points through unforced errors just struggling to just keep the ball in play. But once we settled down everyone won their last match of the day and kind of came into their own. It was a very trying day with the wind, not only physically but mentally.”
The Hortons were 3-0 on the day, while Dylan Stos and Luke Williams were 3-1 for third place. A surprise in singles came in the form of a third-place finish by Gallagher Martin-Chavez, who was 3-1, while newcomer Kento Aizawa showed a lot of promise by taking fifth, also going 3-1.
The Hortons defeated Pierce Carey and Matt Berneking 8-3 of Salina South in the finals.
“Peter and Ryan really found their groove finishing off a solid Salina South team in the finals,” Brown said. “They really anchored the team with a first.”
While the Hortons and Stos are proven, the younger players came through.
“Gallagher was a true warrior, not even seeded in the Top 4, coming through finishing third in singles to really help the team,” Brown said. “Dylan Stos and Luke Williams really showed fight and mental toughness winning 8-6, 8-7 (7-3), in their first two matches before losing in the the semifinals. They really came into their own as well playing Newton for third and winning 8-6, which was a quality win. And lastly Kento Aizawa showed great tenacity after losing in the second round to show a short memory in putting that behind him and winning out the rest of his matches for fifth place."
All-in-all, Brown was happy for the first meet of the year.
“I was very happy to win not only our first meet but our first meet at home,” Brown said. “It was nice to beat out Newton, which was ranked second in the coaches 5A poll, but at the same time Newton didn't bring their true No. 1 doubles team of Calgren and Kingsley, which could of made that gap between us a lot closer.”