When Wichita Collegiate coach Dave Hawley split up his Class 3-2-1A defending champion doubles team last season, the reason was simple: the Spartans had a better shot at winning their third team title in four years by separating Miles Dunne and Brandon Somerhalder.
For Hawley, the primary emphasis is team. Always has been, always will be.
While disappointed at not being able to defend their title, the duo understood.
"Everyone is willing to sacrifice for the team," said Dunne, a senior. "It's all about tradition on Collegiate's tennis team. The team picture, that's always the favorite picture."
This season, Hawley put Dunne and Somerhalder back together again, and they will start their postseason trip on Saturday in the 3-2-1A regional at Collegiate. The 3-2-1A state tournament is May 14-15 in Wamego.
Hawley has made such team-oriented decisions before. As he tells his players, he made similar moves with his own sons, Ben and Zach, that put their individual success on hold in order to strengthen the team's chances.
Last year Hawley put Dunne in singles, while he teamed Somerhalder with Varoon Bashyakarla.
"I didn't have to twist their arms," Hawley said. "I told them from the beginning, 'I'll keep you together, you've earned that right, but I don't think down the road we'll be that dominant as a team.' "
Dunne finished fourth in singles, while Somerhalder and Bashyakarla finished second to teammates Wyatt Kesler and Paul Abromeit. It was the third time in four seasons that Collegiate had both doubles teams in the 3-2-1A final.
Kesler, a senior, and Abromeit, a junior, are hoping to defend their title. But Dunne and Somerhalder, who defeated Kesler and Abromeit for the 2008 3-2-1A doubles title, want to reclaim it.
No surprise, there's been some serious trash talk between the four players since last May.
"After we won sophomore year, Miles and I kind of had the bragging rights," said Somerhalder, a senior. "When they won it last year, they've been loving it for the past year. But Miles and I have been saying, it wasn't Miles and I that you beat. It was Varoon and I."
The doubles teams have played once this season, last month at Collegiate's tournament. Dunne and Somerhalder won, but Somerhalder said neither team was at their best because they were disappointed in playing for third place.
"They're getting to where they're hitting their stride and they are anticipating better," Hawley said of Dunne and Somerhalder.
As for Kesler and Abromeit, they have different styles. While Kesler is consistent, Abromeit tends to come through with the outstanding play.
"Paul is a creator," Hawley said. "He's a really fun kid to watch. He does some things, 'where did that come from?' That's really a gift. Brandon and Miles have that gift. Wyatt's game is built more on steadiness and great hands."
While the conjecture on possibly meeting in the 3-2-1A title match is fun, not one of the players is overlooking future opponents.
"Obviously we know there are some good teams out there, so if we want to get that shot at going at each other in the finals, we have to really make sure we don't cruise control or we won't get there," Abromeit said.