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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Pup netters eye top three finish at Class 4A tournament

  • McPherson High boys tennis coach Tyler Brown is trying to temper his expectations heading into today’s Class 4A Boys Tennis State Tournament in Winfield.
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  • McPherson High boys tennis coach Tyler Brown is trying to temper his expectations heading into today’s Class 4A Boys Tennis State Tournament in Winfield.
    The Bullpups enter the T.H. Vaughn Tennis Center as the No. 2 team in 4A as of the final Kansas Tennis Coaches Association rankings released Tuesday. They won their regional by two points over Buhler, who is fifth in 4A, and have more competitors in the tournament than top ranked Topeka Hayden.
    Not only that, but Peter and Ryan Horton are being talked about as the favorites to win the doubles tournament.
    Dylan Stos and Luke Williams could make some serious noise in doubles, as well, and sophomore Kento Aizawa is a dangerous opponent for any one of the favorites to overlook in singles.
    All in all, Brown could have a double state championship in tennis, as the Bullpup girls won in October.
    “I think, realistically, our goal is top three,” Brown said. “And we’ll need some help from other teams that don’t have all six or five if we want to make a good run at Topeka Hayden.”
    It’s not just Hayden that Brown is concerned with entering the competition today. Independence, Andover Central, Buhler and Bishop Miege have all been ranked in the KTCA top five at various points throughout the season.
    The one area Brown isn’t really worried about is doubles, as the Hortons hunt for their second state championship of the year with a 29-6 record. In a 12-month span, the senior duo have taken third in last year’s state tennis tournament, finished third at state soccer and won the Class 4A state basketball championship in March.
    Brown feels a state championship in tennis is definitely within the sphere of possibility for the twins.
    “They’re playing well,” Brown said. “The last two days of practice, they’ve looked really good. They play like they have been, I think they could win it.”
    Brown figures the top challengers to a Horton tennis championship are Sam and Josh Hilger of Independence. The duo are 15-3, with one of those losses coming at the hands of MHS.
    “That’s a pretty impressive resume,” Brown said of the Independence duo. “Andover Central, Bishop Miege [are concerns also]. You’re not a regional champion if you can’t play. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
    The Bullpups No. 2 doubles team of Stos and Williams are poised for an upset run, as well. The senior Stos and junior Williams have great chemistry on the court and have put together a 26-10 record coming into the state tournament.
    Page 2 of 2 - A semifinal run wouldn’t be a surprise, though, again, Brown is tempering expectations.
    “I think for sure they can be a top eight,” Brown said. “They will have to knock off one of those regional champions to get into the semifinals. But they’ve been looking good, too, and you just never know what could happen. I’d like to see them in the semis. We’ll need that if we hope to be one of those top teams at the end of Saturday.”
    In singles play, Aizawa could be a sleeper to get into the second day of the tournament. Aizawa has a somewhat unassuming 18-13 record, but did upset the No. 2 seed in the McPherson Regional last week.
    “You only need that one, two matches there, in the second, maybe third round,” Brown said. “He could be a sleeper. We need him to be a sleeper in that second day to give us some extra points. We’ll need all five guys to contribute if we’re going to make a run at it.”
    Play began this morning at 11:30 a.m. and will resume at 9 a.m. Saturday for final rounds.

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