The nearly month-long grind of state championship weekends begins Friday with Kansas’ boys tennis tournament. Olathe Northwest hosts Class 6A at College Boulevard Tennis Complex (11031 S. Valley Parkway, Olathe, KS 66061) while Bishop Miege hosts the 4A tournament at Harmon Park (7727 Delmar, Prairie Village, 66208). Class 5A will compete in Topeka’s Kossover Tennis Center (2501 SW Gage Blvd, Topeka, 66614) and Classes 3-2-1A will play at one of two venues in Garden City.
1. A Blue Valley Northwest three-peat?
Blue Valley Northwest will try to repeat as Class 6A champions for a third straight year, this time without three seniors who led the Huskies into both the singles and doubles semifinals last year. It’s up to Yash Mylavarapu (20-2), winner of the Shawnee Mission West regional and a state placer last year, to set the table in a tournament featuring Dodge City’s Brett Groth (26-2), Topeka junior Ian Clifton (27-3) and Olathe Northwest’s Brett Seaton (25-2).
Blue Valley West could threaten to topple the status quo, albeit without two-time state champion Max Kurzban, who didn’t play this season but will compete at Virginia next year. Junior Brad Mittleman (12-2), who forfeited the regional to Seaton with an injury, is the team’s lone representative in the singles bracket.
But BV West could score plenty of points with its two doubles teams. Bruno and Rafa Serra (12-0) enjoyed an undefeated season, including an Eastern Kansas League championship, while Ryan and Nick Moody (8-4) placed second in regionals to the Serra brothers last week.
2. Grier flying solo
Just one year removed from a doubles title, Miege senior Will Grier returns to the Class 4A courts in the singles bracket.
Grier didn’t waste time adjusting to playing without a partner this season. He had an 18-2 season and won Collegiate’s Tournament of Champions by defeating the reigning 5A singles champion Rodney Steven of Bishop Carroll 8-5 in late April.
But Grier’s path to the title isn’t easy. Collegiate is a favorite to win the 4A championship with the help of Lakelin Conrad (18-5) and Easton Ewy (15-3), whom Grier beat in the Champions semifinal. McPherson and Independence, too, each have a pair of players who have 23 or more wins. Grier will also contend with Rudra Dixit, a Parsons freshman who is 28-6 and won the Chanute regional over Independence.
3. An all-KC 5A championship
St. James Academy took advantage of a friendly matchup in the singles final to narrowly beat Mill Valley for the De Soto regional title last week. With Isaac Howes defeating teammate Adam Burke in three sets, St. James scored 23 points and eclipsed Mill Valley by two points.
The close-fought tournament might foreshadow a KC-themed championship in Topeka this weekend. Across the four 5A regionals, Topeka West was the only other team to score more than 18 points. It won the Emporia regional with 21 points thanks to the doubles teams of Zach Shima and Kyle Rice (32-4) and Noah Kuebler and Coban Gonzales (22-14), who placed first and third, and a second-place finish by its No. 2 singles player.
Shima and Rice placed fifth at state last year, defeating Mill Valley’s Andrew Bock and Alec Bergeron on their way. Seniors Bock and Bergeron (28-1) qualified for state for a fourth straight season. They placed seventh last year and 10th as sophomores.
For schedules and more information, see kshsaa.org.