ABILENE — McPherson County features not one, but two schools that qualified entire teams for the Class 4A State Boys Tennis Tournament next weekend in Winfield.
McPherson High School and Smoky Valley High School battled for the Abilene Regional championship on Friday, but both teams came out winners in the end. The No. 1 ranked Bullpups won the title with 24 points compared to 17 for the Vikings, but both teams will have a chance at state hardware with all six players qualified for state.
“I was very pleased with our effort today,” McPherson head coach Tyler Brown said. “We continue to have total team efforts which gave us the regional team title.”
Day two of regionals began with McPherson’s doubles teams squaring off in the semifinals. The defending state champion duo of Kaden Stewart and Nolan Schrader knocked off Rhett Edmonson and Jackson Schrader. Stewart and Schrader then won the regional championship to earn a No. 1 seed at state and improve their season record to 33-1.
“Our doubles teams looked fantastic these past few days,” Brown said. “Nolan and Kaden looked like they were on a mission, only dropping four games the entire tournament.”
Despite losing in three sets in the following third place match, Brown was happy with the performances of Edmonson and Schrader as well. The sophomore duo will be a No. 4 seed at state.
“Jackson and Rhett played in their first regional and didn’t disappoint,” Brown said. “They ended the day playing Smoky Valley’s [Nick] Reinert and [Johanna] Rauchholz and pushing them to the limit in three sets. That was fun to watch them elevate their game and play with such a talented team so well.”
It was an all-McPherson finals in singles after Jarrod Nowak and Andrew Snell both took care of business in the semifinals. After a contested first set, Snell was forced to retire due to cramps.
Nowak, now 30-3 on the year, will be a No. 1 seed at state. Snell, who is 28-6, will be a No. 2 seed.
“Jarrod looked really good the last couple of days and didn’t even drop a game until he met his teammate Andrew Snell in the finals,” Brown said. “My heart goes out to Andrew — a senior who was going toe to toe with what was looking like an epic final before he started cramping up.”
The top-ranked Bullpups have a week to practice before state. McPherson is seeking its first state championship since 2015.
“Our focus this week will be getting everyone healthy and ready for state,” Brown said. “Because if we are not 100 percent, it will be extremely difficult to take home some team hardware.”
Smoky Valley’s doubles teams also faced off in the semifinals, with Matt Lucas and Jake Lucas advancing to the finals over Reinert and Rauchholz. Lucas and Lucas will be a No. 2 seed at state while Reinert and Rauchholz will be a No. 3 seed.
Both doubles teams should be in the hunt for state medals.
In singles, Cole Brumbaugh finished fourth and Laurence Dahlsten placed sixth. If Smoky Valley can receive contributions at state from their singles entries, the Vikings will have a legitimate shot at a top-three finish.
The state tournament begins at approximately 11 a.m. on Friday at the Winfield-T.H. Vaughan Tennis Center.