After taking a pair of early-season losses in high-profile tournaments, defending Class 5A singles champion Rodney Steven added to his roll since with a key victory on Monday to win the No. 1 singles field at the Maize tournament.
Steven defeated McPherson’s Andrew Snell in the finals, 8-3, in a convincing victory that continues the junior’s strong play as of late, which includes victories over Heights’ Kerry Dunn and Eisenhower’s Luke Howard.
“He’s looking really good right now,” Carroll coach Darren Huslig said. “When he’s on top of his game, he’s hitting with a lot of pace and he’s putting a lot of pressure on his opponents. When he plays a smart game and doesn’t try to go too big with balls that aren’t there, he’s tough to beat.”
Across town, Collegiate junior Lakelin Conrad also scored a bounceback victory following a disappointing defeat to Eisenhower’s Luke Howard in the Arkansas City.
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Conrad found redemption on Monday at the Collegiate tournament, as he defeated Howard 8-3 in the semifinals, then beat Arkansas City’s Pierce Klaassen in the finals, 8-2.
“Luke is a great player, but I just had a feeling that Lakelin would play better if he got another shot at him and then he just owned (Klaassen) in the finals,” Collegiate coach Dave Hawley said. “Those were two really good matches that he needed and I’m excited to see what he’s going to do.”
Back in Maize, Hawley decided to pair Easton Ewy with Austin Gartner for the first time this season and the doubles team responded by winning a loaded field of No. 1 doubles. Ewy and Gartner took care of Maize’s Kaden Jobe and Chase Schreiner in the semifinals, then beat McPherson’s Nolan Schrader and Kaden Stewart, 8-5, in the championship match.
“Easton has a really good backhand and I’ve got a really good forehand, so we compliment each other pretty well,” Gartner said. “So when we have game point, 40-30, on the outside when Easton can use his backhand we were able to win a lot of those points.”
Ewy will return to singles for the Tournament of Champions on Saturday, while Gartner will play with another doubles partner.
But Gartner enjoys Hawley’s experimentation with the line-up and believes it makes Collegiate’s players more well-rounded.
“I think because we have so many competitive players, it allows coach to mix us around and figure out what the best combination is going to be,” Gartner said. “There’s no set lineup. Some teams send the same six to tournaments the whole season, but that’s not what we do. We want to give everybody a chance and see what our best lineup is going to be.”
“I could give a lick about winning a regular season tournament,” Hawley said. “We want our kids to see the best competition possible. I want all of my kids to be playing No. 1’s everywhere they go, so that’s why we overschedule like we do. I don’t care if we don’t send our six best to every tournament because I want all of my kids to see the best people out there.”
Teams: 1. Eisenhower 28; 2. Andover 25; 3. Collegiate 20; 4. Arkansas City 19; 5. Kapaun 18; 6. Independent 14; 7. Haven 12; 8. El Dorado 11.
No. 1 singles: 1. Conrad, Collegiate, def. Klaassen, Ark City, 8-2; 3. Howard, Eisenhower, def. J. Richardson, Andover, 8-7 (3).
No. 2. singles: 1. Clark, Independent, def. Brown, Eisenhower, 8-1; 3. C. Richardson, Kapaun, def. Nachtigal, Haven, 8-4.
No. 1 doubles: 1. Anderson-McGreevy, Eisenhower, def. Wreath-Shanks, Andover, 8-1; 3. Foss-Kempf, Kapaun, def. Wheeler-Trout, Collegiate, 8-5.
No. 2 doubles: 1. Klotz-Hilario, Ark City, def. Gracey-Jones, Andover, 8-2; 3. Hane-Mohr, Kapaun, def. Fernandes-Lee, Collegiate, 8-6.
Teams: McPherson 28, Bishop Carroll 22, Maize 21, Collegiate 15, Hutchinson 10, Maize South 9, Dodge City 6, Goddard 5.
No. 1 singles: 1. Steven, Carroll, def. Snell, McPherson, 8-2; 3. Severud, Hutchinson, def. Sanders, Maize; 5. Murphy, Collegiate, def. Groth, Dodge City, 8-7 (5); 7. Winter, Goddard, def. Spurgeon, Maize South, 8-0.
No. 2 singles: 1. Nowak, McPherson, def. Pfeifer, Maize, 8-0; 3. Aruskevicius, Carroll, def. Edwards, Collegiate, 8-4; 5. Hernandez, Hutchinson, def. French, Maize South, 8-4; 7. Phillipe, Goddard, def. Thomas, Dodge City, 8-3.
No. 1 doubles: 1. Ewy-Gartner, Collegiate, def. Stewart-Schrader, McPherson, 8-5; 3. Jobe-Schreiner, Maize, def. Oxler-Stranhoner, Carroll, 8-2; 5. Jewett-Spurgeon, Maize South, def. Tatum-Butterus, Goddard, 8-2; 7. Ridgway-Harman, Dodge City, def. Schweder-Tolbert, Hutchinson, 8-5.
No. 2 doubles: 1. Munsey-Hageman, McPherson, def. Kratzer-Ohnmeis, Maize, 8-5; 3. Huslig-Brown, Carroll, def. Parks-Kordonowy, Maize South, 8-2; 5. Lopez-Clark, Dodge City, def. Ocon-Addis, Hutchinson, 8-4; 7. Hewisk-Delmar, Goddard, def. Qaki-Mahomed, Collegiate, 8-5.
NORTHWEST 7, HEIGHTS 2
Singles: 1. Dunn, Heights, def. Haight 6-0, 6-1; 2. Landenberger, Northwest, def. Reimschisel 6-1, 6-1; 3. Ka. Nickel, Northwest, def. Soto 6-1, 6-1; 4. Minter, Northwest, def. Brinckerhoft 6-0, 6-0; 5. Flippin, Northwest, def. Davis 6-0, 6-0; 6. Ko. Nickel, Northwest, def. Srsha 6-0, 6-0.
Doubles: 1. Dunn-Reimschisel, Heights, def. Haight-Ka. Nickel 6-1, 6-3; 2. Flippin-Ko. Nickel, Northwest def. Soto-Brinckerhoft 6-2, 6-1; 3. Minter-Landenberger, Northwest, def. Davis-Srsha 6-0, 6-0.