Any player wearing the light blue colors of the Shawnee Mission East Lancers on Friday at the Kansas Class 6A state tennis tournament had quite an advantage. The tournament started play on the Harmon Park courts — which just so happens to be adjacent to Shawnee Mission East High School. So when the Heights doubles team of senior Mateo Cabezas and junior Saif Khan fell behind their opponents from SM East, they initially felt overwhelmed by the Lancers' homecourt advantage. But after dropping the first set, Cabezas and Khan turned the match around and won 4-6, 6-4, (10-7).
Later, Cabezas and Khan took care of the Goddard team of seniors Tanner Cluck and Jared Farris 6-1, 6-2, to advance into the semifinal round today at 9 a.m. The pair was most pleased with its role as victorious outsiders against the home favorites.
"We lost the first set 6-4 and in the second one we were down 3-0," Cabezas said. "It was exciting because they had a big crowd."
As the lone Heights participants in the state tournament, Cabezas and Khan feel extra motivation as they prepare for today's match against another Kansas City-area team, the No. 1 tournament seed Connor Sutton and Robert Tung of Blue Valley North.
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"We're the underdogs," Cabezas said.
Added Khan: We have nothing to lose... it's expected for them (to win)."
As Cabezas and Khan advanced to the semifinal round, other Wichita-area participants fell into the losers bracket to compete for fifth place. Maize senior Clint Chumsky lost in the singles quarterfinals 6-0, 6-2 to Blue Valley Northwest senior Travis Neilson. Chumsky will face the winner of the Tanner Lambky (Goddard) and Mitchel Witmer (Campus) match.
Class 5A — Hutchinson sophomore Ryan Hickman reached the semifinals of the singles draw at Emporia, beating Tyler Jackson of St. Thomas Aquinas 6-1, 6-3 in the quarterfinals.
In doubles, McPherson's Nathan Wehrman and Mark Gayer made it to today's semis, as did Hutchinson's Ben Braun and Ben Fangman.
Class 4A — Smoky Valley's Quinn Dippel and Hesston's Jesse Voth-Gaeddert will play in one singles semifinal today in Pratt. In doubles, Wellington's Gary Fike and Jordon Thompkins will play Smoky Valley's Ryan Reed and Koltin Howard-Talbott; Smoky Valley's Jared Altenborg and Seth Nelson play an Independence team in the other semi.
Class 3-2-1A — All of Collegiate's entries reached the semifinals in Wamego: Daniel Ritchie and Hunter Morris in singles, and the doubles teams of Miles Dunne-Brandon Somerhalder and Paul Abromert-Wyatt Kesler.
Wichita Independent freshman Jake Norman lost one game in four sets while advancing to the singles semifinals.
Conway Springs' doubles team of Stratton Lange and Kayl Barkley also made the semis.