Two firsts occurred at the Central Kansas League tennis tournament hosted at Pratt on April 29: Pratt finished as runners-up, a best-yet placing since joining the CKL in 2010, and every Greenback on the team pocketed a coveted CKL medal.
“The CKL is pretty stacked in most sports, and tennis is no exception,” said coach Larry Kahmeyer. “When you’re talking about going head-to-head with Hesston, Smoky Valley, Sterling, even Hillsboro, you’re talking about swimming in a deep pool. We placed 4th two years ago, 3rd last year, and put up a good battle against Hesston for 2nd this year. I was thrilled with the guys’ effort and happy that everyone medaled. We haven’t collected many of those in the past, so this was a high-water mark for us as a team.”
Hesston lead all teams with a perfect 60 points, followed by Pratt (48), Sterling (36), Smoky Valley (21), Hillsboro (21), Kingman (18), and Haven (6).
Thomas Mayberry, a senior playing #1 singles, had a first round bye. Jonathan Schotte at #2 singles, Christian Kurz and Liam Kahmeyer at #1 doubles and Shivam Bhakta and Trae Forman at #2 doubles all cruised in the opening round. Bhakta and Forman dropped a mere 2 games, the other Frogs were perfect in the opening round.
The semi-finals narrowed the field of talent, but Mayberry gave Sterling’s Zach Brashear a 6-0, 6-0 pasting. Kahmeyer and Kurz continued to the finals with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Schneider and Bellah from Smoky Valley. Bhakta and Foreman got to the finals with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-0 win over Weiner and Comley from Sterling. Schotte dropped a tough 3-6, 0-6 match to Caleb Hendricks of Sterling.
With the exception of Schotte, who would face Kingman’s Leroux for 3rd, the finals pitted Pratt against Hesston to decide the team championship.
Mayberry hit well, but eventually fell 1-6, 3-6 to the Swathers’ ultra-consistent LeFevre.
“Thomas beat Keegan at Smoky Valley earlier in the year, so I knew he had a chance to win again, but today the consistency tables turned in LeFevre’s favor,” commented Coach Kahmeyer.
Liam Kahmeyer and Kurz faced Hesston’s Dahlsten and Jensen in the finals and put up a good battle, only to fall 3-6, 3-6.
“Like Thomas, Liam and Christian were blasting away against a very good team and if one can be pleased with a loss, I was,” reflected Kahmeyer. “Playing good competition pulls you up and our guys responded with aggressive groundstrokes and volleys. It was fun to watch.”
Schotte bounced back with a 6-1, 6-2 defeat of Leroux to secure the 3rd and final medal in his flight.
“Jonny has grown so much this year with mental discipline and patience and he came back strong after his semi-final loss,” said Kahmeyer.
Page 2 of 2 - Bhakta and Foreman jumped their third seed to finish second after losing the final round to Hesston’s Penner and Penner 1-6, 3-6.
“In some ways, Shiv and Trae had the day’s best performance to finish second,” enthused Kahmeyer. “Take away one shaky set against Sterling in the second round, and they played as well as they’ve played all season.”