With the rigors of the City League schedule behind them, Northwest’s boys tennis players focused on the Class 6A tournament.
Five Grizzlies will be making their first state tournament appearance next week after qualifying Saturday at Ralph Wulz Riverside Tennis Center.
Senior Andrew Minter led the way for Northwest. He played No. 1 singles this year and scored a straight-set victory for third place over Garden City’s Garrett Kipp 6-1, 6-1.
Minter had the perfect spot for his third-place medal – on his Ottawa University lanyard. Minter has signed to play tennis for the Braves as well as getting an academic scholarship, Northwest coach Mike Thomas said.
“That was his one goal this year, was to get to state,” Thomas said.
Minter said he’s excited to get his first trip to state as a senior.
“It means a lot, because last year my second round went to a tiebreaker and I ended up losing by two points,” he said. “I’m happy as a senior to now be able to go to state.”
He will be joined by both of Northwest’s doubles teams. The No. 2 team of senior Luca Carrocci and freshman Trent Landenberger defeated the Grizzlies’ No. 1 team of juniors Kal Nickel and Kohner Haight and finished fourth.
Nickel and Haight will also be going to state as the sixth-place team from the regional, falling in the fifth-place match to Campus sophomores Trevor Page and Mykel Apsley 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Northwest almost qualified all six of its entrants, but Minter’s younger brother Jacob, a freshman, fell to Campus junior K.J. Kohlhorst, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, in a fifth-place semifinal.
The regional also provided a glimpse at the future for these teams. South freshman Evan Kruse made it to the fifth-place final and scored a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Kohlhorst for the host Titans’ only points of the regional.
“I didn’t expect to do all this much when I came in,” Kruse said. “But now that I’m here, I’m glad I made it.”
South coach Tom Grow is looking forward to more of this from Kruse the next three years.
“It shows a lot for his skills,” Grow said of Kruse. “His losses have been to some really tough competition in the City (League). Hopefully, he’s kind of grown and starting to learn throughout the year what it takes to win at this level.”
The trials of City League might benefit Kruse at state, Grow said.
“Evan plays to his competition level,” he said. “So if it’s tougher, he’ll play tougher.”
Campus also is young, with five sophomores and a junior this year, coach Dennis Matzen said.
“It’s nice to get these guys in and get some good experience,” he said. “Last year, we didn’t qualify anybody. It looks good for the next couple of years.”
Class 6A Regional
At Ralph Wulz Riverside Tennis Center
Team scores – Dodge City 24, Garden City 12, Northwest 12, Campus 6, South 3, Hutchinson 1, North 0, West 0.
Singles – 1. Kark, Dodge City, def. Groth, Dodge City, 6-2, 6-3; 3. Minter, Northwest, def. Kipp, Garden City, 6-1, 6-1; 5. Kruse, South, def. Kohlhorst, Campus, 6-3, 6-1. Doubles – 1. Silva-Depaz, Garden City, def. Salmeron-Spaangoong, Dodge City, 6-7, 6-4, 6-1; 3. Rodriguez-Waldman, Dodge City, def. Carrocci-Landenberger, NW, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5; 5. Page-Apsley, Campus, def. Nickel-Haight, Northwest, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.