At 6 a.m. the morning before one of the biggest weekends of his life, Blue Valley senior Anil Patel was up and grinding through another physical therapy session for his inflamed shoulder.
He had come a long way from the start of the season, when he could barely lift his arm past 90 degrees, which made his achievements at the Kansas Class 6A state tennis championships Saturday at the College Boulveard Activity Center in Olathe even more rewarding.
“I didn’t expect to be back in full, but I was back enough to get it,” Patel said.
Patel ultimately won the singles title by injury default as Shawnee Mission East’s Jack Santilli battled cramps from his semifinal match against BV Northwest’s James Lowe, which lasted 3 hour, 27 minute. SM East coach Sue Chipman said Santilli was taken to the hospital after he defaulted to receive fluids, but should recover quickly.
“He was the main person I was thinking about and training for coming into state,” Patel said. “I was kind of excited to play him.”
Patel, who was also the Eastern Kansas League and regional champion this year, improved his record to 21-3 with the victory and dropped just six games through three weekend matches.
“It’s hard to battle back from injuries and that shoulder has been bothering him all through the Plaza Tournament and weeks after,” Blue Valley coach Kim Francis said. “The fact that he can compartmentalize it and not make it a part of the game shows a lot about his mental strength as a player.”
On the doubles side, BV Northwest’s Brett White and Jonathan Lowe led the way for the team champion Huskies.
They defeated BV North’s Brady Flanagan and Carson Fournier 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 for the state title. It was the fifth time the two teams had played this season, with the Huskies’ team holding a 4-1 edge in the season series.
“After we lost the second set pretty badly, we were up 40-15 and knew we had to come out with energy,” Lowe said. “We came out on top of it and knew we would win the set.”
It was the Huskies’ first championship since 2002 and the eighth straight title to return to the Johnson County area. SM East and BV North have combined for the other seven.
“I really wanted it for these guys,” BV Northwest coach Ted Fabiano said. “They were a real team up until the very end and loved cheering each other on. They were just as excited watching their own teammates win a match as they were to be on the court.”
The Huskies showed their depth with three more top-five finishes to cruise to a 22-point victory in the team standings. Lowe’s brother, James, added a third-place finish in the singles bracket, Yash Mylavarapu finished fifth and the doubles team of Arvind Raghuraman and Caul Pearson took third.
SM East, which had won the past three state titles, finished second. Billy Louiselle took ninth in singles, Jeff Larrabee and Elliott Renft took ninth in doubles and Lane Anderson and Barrett Cooper took 11th.
Patel’s singles title, along with a fifth-place finish in doubles from Min Moon and Tyler Elmendorf, secured third place for the Tigers.
Class 4A postponed
The Kansas Class 4A state tournament in Pratt was postponed becaue of inclement weather. It is scheduled to re-start at 8 a.m. Sunday with singles place matches and doubles semifinals yet to play.
Paola’s Justin Salisbury and Derek Weaver are the only metro-area players left in the winner’s bracket. They will play McPherson’s Luke Williams and Kento Aizawa for a spot in the doubles championship. The Paola team is 24-2 going into its semifinal match.
Teammates Collin Graves and Eric Haefele are still alive in the consolation bracket along with De Soto’s Luke Zoller, Bishop Miege’s Will Grier and Bishop Miege’s John Schultz.
Kansas Class 5A in Goddard was also suspended and will start at 8:30 a.m. Sunday.