Shorthanded Indians compete twice

By Grant Guggisberg

With weather putting the pinch on the Manhattan High boys’ tennis season, the Indians were forced to play in back-to-back tournaments this past weekend.

The team began on Friday at Salina South, with Manhattan joining 12 other teams from the area in what would prove to be a tough field. On Saturday, the Indians made the relatively short trip to Junction City for a six-team, round-robin tournament against more stout competition.

“Weather has plagued this season in terms of both scheduling tournaments as well as practices,” MHS coach Chuck Kipp said.

The Indians played all weekend without their regular at No. 1 singles, Jake Seaton, because of illness. That left Bryan Armbrust to take his place in Salina, with freshman Kirkland Lambert replacing Seaton at singles in Junction City on Saturday.

In Salina on Friday, there were just two brackets, one for singles and one for doubles. That left Armbrust and fellow singles player Dustin Hayes to represent the Indians in a crowded singles field. Both went 2-2 on the day, with Hayes taking sixth place overall and Armbrust finishing 13th.

In doubles, J.T. Turnley and Lambert finished with a 3-1 record, losing only to Salina South and taking fifth. Freshmen Ben and Matt Turnley finished the day 2-2 and in 13th place.

“The boys played relatively well, but they were at the mercy of bracket seeding, which was difficult due to the fact that very few of the players and teams had played each other at this point of the year,” Kipp said. “Senior Jake Seaton and junior Adarsh Singh, originally slated to play for Manhattan, were unavailable to play due to illness and injury.”

On Saturday in Junction City, Manhattan went back to its usual format of designating between No. 1 and No. 2 singles and doubles players. The tournament was a round-robin style, so each player got five matches on the day.

Lambert debuted at singles, finishing with a 3-2 record on the day. He lost to Abilene’s Matt Barlow, a previous state qualifier, as well as a close match to Chris Snyder from Topeka High to take third.

At No. 2 singles, Hayes also finished 3-2 to take third.

In the No. 1 doubles division, juniors Tyler Belin and J.T. Turnley finished with a 3-2 record in their first outing as a doubles pair, bringing home third place medals. In the No. 2 doubles division, freshman Matt and Ben Turnley finished 4-1 overall with their only loss to Lawrence Free State to take first place.

As a team, Manhattan took second place in the six-team field.

While weather has been especially tough on tennis this year, this week doesn’t appear to be offering much relief. With rain and snow in the forecast across the state of Kansas, Manhattan already moved a tournament in Topeka today to Wednesday, and will be at the mercy of mother nature Tuesday afternoon with a trip to Emporia for a quadrangular meet in jeopardy.

The Centennial League meet is scheduled for Monday, April 29 in Emporia in what has become an extremely short season.

“The season is very compact this year and it becomes increasingly difficult to improve skills and build confidence when the weather further reduces opportunities,” Kipp said. “The boys have been doing very well when given time to work and compete.”

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