LINDSBORG — Smoky Valley’s boys tennis team has exceeded coach John Bellah’s expectations.
Last Friday on its home court, Bellah was hoping to qualify half his team for the Class 4A State Tournament, which is scheduled this Friday and Saturday in Pratt.
Instead, the Vikings practically have their entire team making the trip, as five got through a tough regional that included Top 5-ranked teams McPherson High and Abilene.
“I am thrilled to get five players into the state tournament,” Bellah said. “We were hoping for at least three, but wanted to get five and we did. It wasn't easy. Our 2s (No. 2 doubles team of Jarod Meier and Seth Yenni) had to play a tough match against Abilene's 2s in the round that determines whether you go to state or not and it went three sets. On top of that it was determined in a 3-let breaker. I was very proud of our 2s for prevailing. It could have gone either way, but Meier and Yenni made some big shots to win the match.”
That means both Smoky Valley doubles teams will be at state, as the No. 1 team of Trapper Bellah and Nick Reinert also qualified by taking fifth, defeating Meier and Yenni in the fifth-place match.
Add in singles player Drew Bochte, who was fifth, and it should be a festive time for the Vikings, not to mention a learning experience.
“It should be a fun weekend in Pratt,” Bellah said. “My goal is to be playing tennis on Saturday. It think our doubles team could finish in the Top 8 if they play the way they can. I'm really proud of Drew Bochte for making it to state as a freshman. He is playing as well as I could be hoping for. He is a player that can scare some good tennis players with his style of tennis. The best thing is we will be returning all five players next year and this experience will be valuable for the future.”
• VIKING STATE ENTRANTS •
Drew Bochte, 21-13
Trapper Bellah-Nick Reinert, 16-13
Jarod Meier-Seth Yenni, 15-12