State tennis in Kansas begins today (weather permitting). Class 6A swings into action at the Kossover Tennis Center in Topeka, Class 5A’s plays at Emporia High School, Class 4A plays at Wichita Collegiate, and Class 3-2-1A will be at the Hillsboro Sports Complex.
1 Regional redux
Blue Valley North senior Trey Daniel, 21-0, is the odds-on favorite to repeat as the Class 6A singles champion and he’s already familiar with his main competition. Last year, all four state semifinalists came from the same regional, and that’s likely to happen again. Shawnee Mission West senior Vinh Pham, 21-2, who was the 6A singles runner-up a year ago, finished second to Daniel after dropping a 6-2, 6-1 match Monday in the regional final at Indian Creek Recreation Center. Don’t sleep on SM East junior Brooks Kendall, though. Kendall, 14-10, finished third at state a year ago and pushed Pham during a meeting earlier in the season. He also played Daniel closer than any other player this spring, losing a 6-3, 6-4 decision at Blue Valley’s Plaza Invitational. Blue Valley sophomore Anil Patel, a transfer from Lansing, is the reigning Class 5A singles champion. Patel, 16-4 — who finished fourth in regional play behind Daniel, Pham and Kendall — will be on Daniel’s half of the draw. The are likely to meet in the semifinals.
2 Kochersperger also eyes state gold
SM South has made the most of dropping to Class 5A for the first time. The Raiders captured state titles in boys swimming and basketball during the winter. Senior Kevin Kochersperger hopes to add to the championship haul by winning the 5A singles crown. He made easy work of the regional tourney, where he didn’t drop more than one game in any set. With a thunderous serve and surging confidence, Kochersperger, 20-4, heads to state with the second-best record in the draw. Only Mill Valley senior Rafael Segura-Trujillo, an exchange student from Mexico, boasts a better winning percentage. Kochersperger beat Segura-Trujillo, 23-3, in the regional final 6-1, 6-1 on Monday at Harmon Park.
3 Goodwin going for repeat
The reigning Class 3-2-1A singles champion, Kansas City Christian sophomore Johnny Goodwin, faces a test as he defends that title. Goodwin, 24-1, cruised through his regional, beating Panthers teammate Alex Kartsonis, a sophomore, in the final. He owns a win against Pham, who retired from a match trailing 5-1 against Goodwin two weeks ago. Goodwin’s lone loss came against Wichita Independent senior Jake Norman, 20-0, who is likely to draw the tourney’s top seed. Another unbeaten singles player, Central Plains sophomore Layne Bieberle, also lurks in the bracket and could be in Goodwin’s path in the semifinals.
4 Team race hinges on doubles duos
SM East and BV North are the top contenders for the Class 6A team championship, which seems likely to be decided by the performance of the squads’ doubles teams. The Lancers appear to have the edge in that department after finishing 1-2 at the regional. Senior Jake Glazer and freshman Jack Santilli are 15-2 and among the favorites for the crown. SM East’s No. 2 pair, sophomore Reese Goulding and junior Jamie McDonald, 16-2, also are in that mix, but Washburn Rural has two strong duos as well, including unbeaten senior Griffin Koupal and junior Matt Murray, 24-0. That puts the onus on Mustangs junior Mitchell Samuelson and freshman Brady Flanagan, 14-8, to make a deep run if BV North is going to have any chance to unseat the reigning 6A champion Lancers.
5 More state doubles contenders
St. Thomas Aquinas won the Class 5A team title a year ago — a feat the Saints will be hard-pressed to duplicate. That doesn’t mean coach David Shriver doesn’t have a title threat. Aquinas’ top doubles duo, juniors Blake Jackson and Eric Robinson, 12-2, are among the gold-medal contenders. KC Christian seniors Brad Tippin and Eli Alholm, 16-6, have a title shot in a wide-open 3-2-1A doubles bracket.
| Tod Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org