Saturday’s McPherson Invitational was so deep in singles, last year’s state runner up in 4A, Laklin Conrad of Wichita Collegiate, was seeded fourth before the tournament began.
McPherson High School’s Jarrod Nowak and Andrew Snell were both seeded higher than Conrad due to indirect wins over him earlier this season, and they both proved they were deserving of their seeds. Nowak and Snell met up in the semifinals, where Snell finally got the best of Nowak, 8-3, for his first victory over his teammate in high school.
Head coach Tyler Brown is excited to see Snell succeed, and lauds his off the court mentality.
“Snell has been playing extremely well and has the high quality character a coach dreams of having on his team,” Brown said. “ Between his play and his character a coach couldn't be more proud. He's the type of player that when the tournament is over and it's just the coaches cleaning up he's lending a hand and putting the score trees in the tennis shed.”
Snell would later go on to take second after running into buzzsaw Stratton Brown in the championship, but Nowak was able to end his day on a high-note with a win that will have implications for the state tournament next month.
Nowak gutted an 8-7 (2) win over Conrad in the third-place match, while a first-place finish from the doubles team of Nolan Schrader and Kaden Stewart, complimented by a sixth-place finish from the other doubles team of Hadley Hageman and Patrick Stewart, helped the Bullpups to 56 team points and a first-place finish. Second-place Maize scored 47 points, while Independence was third with 40.
“Another tough day of tennis weather wise; wind played havoc on us but we stayed mentally tough and came out with another team win,” head coach Tyler Brown said.
As impressive as Snell and Nowak were in singles, doubles gave Brown just as much reason for optimism.
Schrader and Stewart lost just four games the entire day en route to a 4-0 and first-place finish. They dismantled a solid Maize team 8-1 in the finals.
“Nolan and Kaden just keep winning and doing their thing,” Brown said. “[They] are making a case for being one of the best doubles teams in the state.”
As for Hageman and Munsey, they were seeded sixth and they finished sixth. They have continued to meet or exceed expectations in every tournament so far this year.
“They are steady and continue to finish in the upper half of tournaments which is right where we need them to be to keep bringing home the team titles,” Brown said.
The next wave of McPherson High tennis was also on display Saturday. The highly talented freshman doubles team of Jackson Schrader and Rhett Edmonson finished eighth in a daunting field. Thomas Smith and Trey Hett were 12th in doubles, while Aaron Carlson (13th) and Taylor Miller (16th) competed in singles.