MHS tennis qualifies five for state tournament

By Grant Guggisberg

With weather postponing play at the Class 6A tennis regional in Wichita originally scheduled for last Friday, players from each of the eight participating schools had an extra weekend to prepare for postseason tennis.

The wait was worth it, as the Manhattan High boys’ tennis team will send five players to state this weekend after a solid showing at the Wichita East regional.

In singles, Jake Seaton came in as the No. 1 seed and delivered, beating Derby’s Braden Baker, 6-1, 6-1, in the final to win the regional championship, while dispatching all of his opponents in straight sets.

The senior opened with a pair of victories over Junction City’s Markus King, 6-1, 6-0, and Wichita East’s Henry Gridley, 6-2, 6-1.

Seaton’s closest match came in the semifinals in a rematch against Washburn Rural’s Tanner Driggers, who beat Seaton at the Centennial League meet. On Monday, Seaton took care of business against the freshman from Rural, beating him 6-3, 6-2.

Freshman Bryan Armbrust, also playing at singles, came into the regional unseeded and was at the mercy of the bracket. He drew seventh-seeded Nick Wherritt in his opening round to end his day.

“This was an excellent finish for Seaton and provided quality experience for Armbrust,” Manhattan coach Chuck Kipp said.

In doubles, the pair of freshman Kirkland Lambert and junior JT Turnley took third, beating Derby’s Luke Palmer and Shane Fowler, 6-4, 7-5, in the third-place match. The pair lost to Washburn Rural’s Reid and Nathan Osborn in the semifinals, 6-4, 6-3, in a good match to go 3-1 on the day. Rural’s two doubles teams are a combined 57-3, with all three of those losses coming in tournaments where the two pairs were forced to play each other.

Freshmen Matt and Ben Turnley also qualified for state, falling to Derby’s Shane Swink and Dylan Hunter, 6-1, 6-1, in the fifth-place match. The pair managed to play above where they were seeded to earn the surprise trip to state.

“Ben and Matt have improved this season and played some tough competition,” Kipp said. “Three freshmen and a junior qualifying for state bodes well for MHS tennis in the future.”

At regional competition, there are no distinctions between No. 1 and No. 2 players, with the top six in singles and doubles advancing to play next weekend in Topeka.

“This was a pretty good outing for the team,” Kipp said. “As well as the matches were played, there were some areas that need improvement, but having five players qualify for state is excellent.”

In the team standings, Manhattan finished in third place behind first-place Washburn Rural and second-place Derby. Both Rural and Derby qualified all six players for state.

The state tournament starts Friday in Topeka at the Kossover Tennis Complex, with the meet wrapping up on Saturday.

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