The pre-tournament favorite was no match for the crowd favorite once both teams reached the doubles championship contest at the Class 5A boys state tennis tournament at McPherson.
Playing on their home court and in front of a partisan crowd, McPherson's Cory Horton and Max Pyle beat top-seeded Andrew Davids and Austin Davids of Topeka West, rallying from a huge first-set deficit on the way to a 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 victory Saturday afternoon at McPherson High School.
It was the first state tennis title for Horton, a senior, and Pyle, a sophomore, but marked the third consecutive year a McPherson doubles team has won the 5A championship.
"I don't even know how to describe this," Horton said. "I can't even comprehend this yet. It's crazy to think about.
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"Max and I played some together in the summer, but we weren't sure before the start of the season that we would even be partners. I always said, no matter who my partner was, we were going to go get a third (straight title). But for it to actually happen...."
Horton and Pyle had to rally from a 5-1 deficit in the first set. They responded by winning four consecutive games, forced a tiebreaker at 6-all, then came back after trailing 2-0 in that tiebreaker.
"I never considered ourselves out of it," Pyle said. "We've seen a lot of comebacks all year, even down a set."
The singles championship went to St. Thomas Aquinas freshman Blake Jackson, who defeated Blue Valley Stilwell's Kyle Nunnally in the title contest 6-4, 6-2.
St. Thomas Aquinas 36, Newton 21, McPherson 20, Salina Central 20, Topeka West 18, Blue Valley Stilwell 17, Andover Central 16, Shawnee Mission Miege 16, Liberal 14, Wichita Carroll 12, Salina South 11, Blue Valley Southwest 9, Shawnee Heights 7, Wichita Kapaun 6, Arkansas City 6, Andover 5, Emporia 1, Pittsburg 1, Mill Valley 1, Highland Park 1, Topeka Seaman 1, Valley Center 1.
Semifinals—Kyle Nunnally, Blue Valley Stilwell def. Christian Boschert, Aquinas, 6-4, 6-4; Blake Jackson, Aquinas def. Steven Wirtz, SM Miege, 6-0, 6-2.
First—Jackson, Aquinas def. Nunnally, Blue Valley Stilwell, 6-4, 6-2. Third— Boschert, Aquinas def. Wirtz, Miege, 6-1, 6-3. Fifth— Luke Johnson, Salina Central def. James Hickok, Blue Valley Southwest, 9-7. Seventh— Jenson Kingsley, Newton def. Tom Flynn, Andover Central, 9-5. Ninth— Matthew Schrader, Andover Central def. Steven Wegner, Andover, 9-1. Eleventh— Ben Grove, Miege def. Jared Ohm, Carroll, 9-7.
Semifinals—Andrew Davids-Austin Davids, Topeka West def. Brooks Taylor-Josh Carlgren, Newton, 6-0, 6-2; Cory Horton-Max Pyle, McPherson def. Duc Nguyen-Vince Nguyen, Liberal, 7-6, 6-0.
First—Horton-Pyle, McPherson def. Davids-Davids, TW, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4. Third— Nguyen-Nguyen, Liberal def. Taylor-Carlgren, Newton, 1-6, 6-1, 6-0. Fifth— Christopher Garcia-Zach Lantz, Salina South def. Justin Bengtson-Nathan Garlow, Salina Central 9-8 (7-5). Seventh— Christian Lollar-Jordan Torres, Carroll def. Bennet Bliel-Toby Doering, Shawnee Heights, 9-8 (7-1). Ninth —John Rohr-Macen Vargas, Arkansas City def. Eric George-Juan Salgado, Kapaun, 9-8 (7-5). Eleventh— Michael Stukel-Donald Mulveny, Aquinas def. Paul Bond-Nick Gazda, Andover Central, 9-8 (7-5).
Class 6A — Blue Valley North's Jack Sock completed an undefeated high school career, beating Shawnee Mission East's Ross Guignon 6-0, 6-1 in the 6A singles final.
Sock is the first player to win four 6A singles titles since Southeast's Rhain Buth from 1987-1990.
"When you think about the history of it," Sock said, "it's pretty special. It's up there with the rest of accomplishments, something I'll always cherish for the rest of my life."
The BV North doubles team of Conner Sutton and Tobert Tung won their second consecutive title, and BV West won the team championship with 55 points.
Goddard and Heights were the top local teams, tying for seventh with eight points.
"Words really don't describe this feeling," Tung said afterward. "It's really too good to be true."