Because McPherson High’s boys tennis team emphasized the “student” in the term “student-athlete,” the Bullpups slid back to fifth place Saturday in their own invitational tournament.
Bullpup coach Tyler Brown was without top-six players Gallagher Martin and Kento Aizawa, both excused because of academic obligations. Martin was competing in a state journalism contest and Aizawa was testing.
And with a field that included a bevy of ranked teams that surely will be carting home plaques from state tournaments, Brown was satisfied.
“Without having our normal lineup, overall we did really well,” Brown said. “Our singles getting to the semifinals was fantastic and anytime (Andrew) Snell and (Luke) Williams beat kids from Independence in the quarterfinals, those are terrific wins.”
Williams wound up taking third place by defeating his teammate in a tiebreaker (8-7, 7-1).
In doubles, the Bullpups received a ninth from Kaden Stewart and Nolan Schrader as they bounced back strong after opening with a loss. The other doubles team of Hadley Hageman and Patrick Munsey took 15th.
Independence, the No. 1-ranked team in Class 4A, won the title with 56 points after winning a tiebreaker with Salina Central, the No. 2 team in 5A. Wichita Collegiate, the No. 2 team in 3-2-1A, was third with 49 points and Maize scored 48.
MHS (45), Arkansas City (32), Garden City (31) and Hutchinson (19) completed the eight-team field.
Independence won the title even though it didn’t have a finalist in singles or doubles, but it had a third and sixth in doubles, and a fifth and sixth in singles as it was coolly efficient.
There was a mild surprise in the singles final, as No. 2-seed Lakelin Conrad of Wichita Collegiate outlasted top-seed Miles Medaris of Maize, 8-6.
Form held true in the doubles final as Salina Central’s top-ranked duo of Jack Weiner and Zach Hampton took down No. 2-seeded Brett Hollis and Toby Beeman of Arkansas City, 8-2.
The Bullpups have little time to recharge their batteries, as they compete Monday in the AVCTL Championships at Winfield, which includes both Division III and IV schools.
“Collegiate will be there again and so will Winfield,” Brown said. “Buhler has some good kids and Wellington might make some noise as well.”
Brown said he wasn’t sure what lineup he would send out, but he will try to maximize his points where he can.
MHS then competes Friday and Saturday in the regional in Lindsborg.