With the first three rounds of the Kansas Class 6A state tennis tournament in the books, it is looking like another promising year for the Sunflower and Eastern Kansas leagues.
The two leagues claim all four singles players and all four of the doubles teams that will battle for state titles when play resumes at 8 a.m. on Saturday at the College Boulevard Activity Center. The Saturday schedule was moved up one hour in anticipation of more inclement weather.
Six of the eight semifinalists are from the Blue Valley North regional, which was won by BV Northwest last Saturday.
“We knew when we came to play in the regional that it would be tough, and even though we came out of it, we knew that wouldn’t carry over to here,” BV Northwest coach Ted Fabiano said.
Fabiano’s Huskies are in the most favorable position as they approach the final day with James Lowe still alive in the singles bracket and two teams in doubles.
The two doubles teams are top-seeded Jonathan Lowe and Brett White, and Arvind Raghuraman and Caul Pearson. Their final qualifier, Yash Mylavarapu, can still finish as high as fifth place on the backside.
“Both doubles teams played really well,” Fabiano said. “They were really enthusiastic and really determined. I’m proud of both teams, and the singles guys played great also.”
The other two doubles spots in the semifinals were earned by Shawnee Mission Northwest’s Reagan Walsh and Nathan Schmidt and BV North’s Carson Fournier and Brady Flanagan.
The singles semifinalists are SM East’s Jack Santilli, Blue Valley’s Anil Patel and Olathe Northwest’s Taylor Ficke.
Despite entering the tournament as the lowest seed out of the BV North regional, Ficke pulled off a pair of upsets in making it to the semifinals. He knocked off Topeka’s Matthew Gonzales, who was the No. 2 out of the Lawrence Free State regional, and Maize’s Brennen Sanders, who was the No. 3 out of Garden City. Ficke will face BV North regional champion Patel in the next round.
“He came to play and he is showing what he can do when he’s focused,” Olathe Northwest coach Tim Oberhelman said of Ficke. “He wants it worse than I’ve ever seen him want it before.”
After sweeping the top four spots in singles and doubles at the St. Thomas Aquinas regional, Blue Valley West has three players still in the hunt for Class 5A titles in Goddard, Kan.
“Our goal is still to take the team title,” BV West coach Traci Rhodes said. “We didn’t all travel the path we had hoped for, but are trying to make the best of where we are at 5A state and making memories.”
Max Kurzban, who won the regional singles title will represent the Jaguars in the semifinals, and the doubles duo of Hunter Sanders and Ryan Moody will provide some balance in doubles.
Bradley Mittleman and Hadley Cornish still have a chance to take fifth and Hayden Smith will play for ninth for Blue Valley West.
St. James Academy’s Caleb Book and Ben Robke as well as Mill Valley’s Andrew Bock and Alec Bergeron are also in contention for ninth in the doubles bracket.
Paola’s doubles team of Justin Salisbury and Derek Weaver will play in the semifinals in Pratt today. Teammates Collin Graves and Eric Haefele are also still alive on the backside for Paola.
Bishop Miege’s John Schultz and Will Grier are eligible for top-eight finishes. De Soto’s Luke Zoller will also play the backside.
Kansas City Christian is confident and experienced, and it showed in the first day of Class 3-2-1A action in Emporia.
Senior Johnny Goodwin, who is already a two-time state champion, advanced to the semifinals. The doubles team of Alex Kartsonis and Jackson VanderArk, who took third last year, also advanced for KC Christian.
“It’s a huge advantage for us” Kansas City Christian coach Nick Hegarty said. “They know the ropes, know the landscape and know what to expect so they can go out and just play and not worry about everything that comes along with it.”