In another decent showing at Tuesday’s Smoky Valley-hosted Ron Dahlsten Classic, the Greenbacks netters rolled back to Pratt with tired legs, wind-burned faces, and a surprising 3rd place team finish.
In another decent showing at Tuesday’s Smoky Valley-hosted Ron Dahlsten Classic, the Greenbacks netters rolled back to Pratt with tired legs, wind-burned faces, and a surprising 3rd place team finish. One of the toughest meets on the Frog’s schedule, Smoky Valley departs from the usual #1 and #2 flights with all players thrown in the same bracket to mimic a regional- and state-style tournament.
Pratt’s 28 points fell short of Hesston’s 46 and Abilene’s 39, but outscored Wichita Collegiate (27), Smoky Valley A (26), Concordia (16), Hillsboro (12), and Smoky Valley B (0).
With gusts up to 30 mph, the wind became an opponent itself. Coach Larry Kahmeyer said, “The old cliché about playing in the wind is still true. Everybody plays in the same conditions – it just comes down to who adjusts better. Physically, it wore everybody out faster and messed with some of our guys more than others, but overall I was pleased with the whole team and how we played. I didn’t expect to place in the top three.”
Again pacing the Greenbacks were doubles partners Liam Kahmeyer and Christian Kurz who went 3-1 for 2nd place out of 16 entrants. Cruising to the finals, the duo defeated Rick/Woodhull (SVB) 8-0, Koop/Schiffner (AB) 8-1, and Bochte/Bellah (SVA) 8-2. Facing the #1 seeded Hesston team of Dahlsten/Roth, the Frogmen jumped out to an early 2-1 lead, then fell behind 3-6, rallied to 5-6, then finally fell 5-8.
“Hesston always puts together good doubles teams and Christian and Liam played well, but fell just a bit short. Dahlsten and Roth are legitimate opponents and it was a quality loss. Pratt hasn’t had an entrant reach the finals in singles or doubles in well over a decade, so it was an accomplishment. Last year, the boys lost twice and placed 5th, so this was a huge jump for them,” commented Kahmeyer.
The remainder of the Greenbacks had tougher paths, but still found success. Matt Loomis went 1-3 and placed 8th after winning his first round over Yenni (SVA) 8-6 to get on the front side. In a tough run, he lost his next three against Sontag (HI) 1-8, Murphy (WC) 2-8, and Smith (WC) 4-8.
“Matt, admittedly, struggled with the wind today,” said Kahmeyer. “He couldn’t dial in his serves and backspin shots and they sailed on him.” He finally found a little rhythm in the final match to end on a better note. We just need to keep working on his consistency.”
The other doubles team of Evan Fowler and David Parmar continued to improve with a 3-1 effort to win the 9th place consolation medal on the backside. Their only loss came in the first round to Hagemon/Minson (AB) at 5-8. Running out the backside, the boys took a bye, defeated Peterson/Campbell (SVB) 8-1, then closed out the run with a 8-1 thrashing of Timme/Reynolds of Concordia.
“I wish the guys could get that first match back,” mused Kahmeyer. “I think they were a bit nervous and still adjusting to the wind. That first round put them in the consolation side, but they played dominant tennis after that only giving up two games. They are improving with each outing and I expect good things from them.”
Rounding out the day was Ethan Sharp who put together a 2-2 effort in singles for 10th place. Losing to Concordia’s Rimrodt 0-8, Sharp defeated Peterson (SVB) 8-4 and Dahlsten (SVA) 8-6 to reach the consolation finals where he lost to Williams of Hesston 6-8.
“Ethan continues to impress me,” said Kahmeyer. “He’s so tenacious and fights for every point. When his tennis skill matches his intensity, watch out. His defeat of Smoky Valley A’s player was critical – without it we would’ve dropped to 5th place.”
The Greenbacks hit the courts again Friday in Russell at 3 p.m.