For most teams, a regional tennis meet is a mixture of excitement tinged with disappointment and the Pratt-hosted 4A boys’ regional on Friday and Sunday, May 3 and 5 was no exception. Fraught with anticipation and expectation, the excitement builds as the post-season arrives, the tournament begins and players qualify for state. The disappointment comes as the competition increases, matches are lost and seasons come to an end.
“Regionals can be an emotional rollercoaster for both players and coaches,” commented coach Larry Kahmeyer. “You always share in the joy of those who qualify and the pain when a season or career comes to an end. We spend so many hours together in a season – on the practice courts, in the van travelling to and from meets, in discussions about developing technique and strategy – it’s tough to see it end so quickly with a handshake to an opponent across the net.”
Originally scheduled for Thursday and Friday, the matches were moved to Friday and Sunday to adjust to inclement weather, state forensics, state journalism, and ACT tests all scheduled on Saturday.
The seeding meeting got underway at 9 a.m. on Friday with Pratt fairing well. Eighteen entries from nine schools vie for the top spots. Senior Thomas Mayberry secured the fourth seed in singles on the strength of a 22-4 record. Doubles partners Liam Kahmeyer and Christian Kurz, at 21-3, also nailed down the fourth seed behind Collegiate and Winfield. Pratt’s second singles player Jonathan Schotte jumped into the bracket at the eighth seed, as did Shivam Bahkta and Trae Foreman in doubles.
Play took to the courts at 11 on a chilly Friday morning and every Pratt entry advanced to the quarterfinals. Mayberry defeated Sisco from Ulysses 6-0, 6-0. In similar fashion, Kahmeyer and Kurz dispatched Brunson and Womack from Trinity Academy with goose eggs. Schotte had no trouble with a quick 0, 0 win over Gonzalez from Augusta. Bhakta and Foreman had to work a little harder, but prevailed over Wellington’s Crittenden and Glazer 4-6, 6-1, (10-2).
The decisive second round automatically qualifies the winners for state as they advance to the top four spots and Pratt’s team was divided right down the middle. Mayberry defeated Winfield’s Osen 6-1, 6-0 and Kahmeyer and Kurz ousted Winfield teammates Boyle and Wasko 7-5, 6-3 to punch their tickets to state. Schotte lost to top seed Beren from Collegiate but managed to get a game on the talented player. Bhakta and Foreman fell to Winfield’s one seeds Hoover and Camp 6-0, 6-0.
Sunday’s play resumed with the original field of 51 players reduced to 24. Mayberry faced top seed Beren and put up one of his best efforts of the season only to fall 4-6, 1-6. Kahmeyer and Kurz took to the courts against top-seeded Hoover and Camp and lost 0-6, 3-6. The losses sent both of Pratt’s top entries to the 3rd place consolation matches. The real heartbreak for Pratt set in as losses for Schotte and Bhakta/Foreman, both to Winfield’s number twos, eliminated them one round shy of a state berth.
Page 2 of 2 - The Greenbacks split the consolation matches with a 6-0, 7-5 win for Mayberry over Olney from Winfield to pocket the 3rd place medal and a 3-6, 4-6 loss for Kahmeyer and Kurz to Collegiate’s Frank and Hullings to secure 4th.
Reflecting on three of his players’ seasons coming to an end, Kahmeyer said, “I haven’t talked to Jonny, Shiv and Trae much yet. Sometimes you’ve got to let a little time pass so it’s not so raw. Jonny and Shiv are seniors and that always stings a little bit more. They have been such a big part of Greenback tennis and I’ve gotten to know them so well, it’s tough to see it end. They’re still part of our state plans – they just won’t be competing on the courts.”
In looking ahead to his remaining three playing at state, Kahmeyer continued, “Thomas has had an outstanding career as a Greenback. He’s a four-time state qualifier and a 10th place state medalist last year and I’m confident that he’ll improve that standing this year. Liam had some valuable experience as a state qualifier last year and now, paired with Christian, they’ve got their sights on placing at state. In the few remaining days of practice, we need to do all we can to make sure that we maximize our potential.”
Wichita Collegiate is slated to host the KSHSAA 4A State Tennis Championship this weekend.