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Three storylines for state tennis


By Brad Hallier

The first spring state championships will be decided this week at four sites across Kansas, as the boys state tennis tournaments get underway on Friday and conclude Saturday.

Here are three storylines to watch for.

How far can Buhler’s depth take them?

Buhler was one of four Class 4A regional champions, and Buhler was one of six teams to score at least 20 points at a regional tournament, as the Crusaders’ 22 points beat McPherson by four at the Buhler regional.

Buhler qualified its entire team for state, led by regional singles champion, sophomore Davian Spies, who beat junior teammate Amos Harder for the title.

Buhler also takes both doubles teams. Senior Brock Hilger teamed up with sophomore Von Woleslagel to finish regional runner-up, while the team of juniors Eli Biggs and Merrick Manns came in fifth.

There will be other strong teams at the state tournament in Pratt, including traditional powers Independence and Topeka Hayden, as well as Parsons, McPherson and Bishop Miege. Winning divisions often helps a team’s cause to win a team title, but in reality, placing at least two entries in the top four, and maybe even three in the top six, is a great recipe for a trophy.

Area 3-2-1A teams will be tested

Area teams did well at the Class 3-2-1A Hillsboro regional, with area schools claiming every team point and every state qualifier, led by Smoky Valley’s regional title and 19 points, followed by Hesston (18 points) and Trinity Catholic (10 points).

But it’s going to be tough sledding at the state tournament in Wichita. Wichita Collegiate, arguably the greatest tennis program in KSHSAA history, swept the singles division and had a regional runner-up in doubles at the Conway Springs regionals.

Classical and Wichita Trinity also have some strong qualifiers.

Still, area entries have a  great chance at a long weekend. Smoky Valley senior Max Bieker and junior Keaton Leiker met up in the regional finals and have collected 47 wins between the two of them. Hesston’s regional championship doubles team of senior Micah Dahlsten and sophomore Asher Deutschendorf has been dominant at 24-5, and beat a good Trinity Catholic duo of seniors Anthony Clennan and Garrett Hageman 6-0, 6-0 for the regional title.

Drop to 5A didn’t benefit Hutchinson

There’s a misnomer that dropping a classification is a good thing. That’s not always the case, however.

Hutchinson, in Class 5A this year, was drawn in a tough regional that included Maize, Maize South, Newton and Hays. It was such a deep regional that Maize South won with just 16 points, and seven of the nine schools qualified someone for the state tournament in Andover.

Hutchinson will send the doubles team of seniors Seth Allen and Brady Ollenburger, who finished third at regionals and go to state with a glossy 21-8 record.