Doubles teams shine at Mill Valley Tourney
Shawnee Lansing High's first tennis outing of the season came in a split session as afternoon thunderstorms Wednesday forced the Mill Valley Tournament to postpone its final matches until Friday afternoon.
That was no problem for the Lions' doubles teams. Both pairs turned in dominating performances Friday as they rolled to third-place finishes. One Lion also placed fourth at No. 2 singles.
"I'm very, very pleased with today," first-year LHS tennis coach Bryan Shelley said.
Seniors Chris Bristow and Chris Hancock combined to form the Lions' No. 1 doubles team. Juniors Matt Warner and Shawn Jung made up the No. 2 doubles squad. Each pair posted a 6-1 record during the tournament with their lone losses coming in their first matches Wednesday against Shawnee Mission North.
For Bristow and Hancock it was a special way to begin their senior season. The pair has played together since their sophomore year but they're still chasing their first trip to the state tournament. They earned a marquee victory over Topeka Hayden in the third-place match. Hayden had given Bristow and Hancock problems in previous years, primarily at regionals where the Wildcats bumped Bristow and Hancock before going on to win Class 4A state championships. The LHS seniors won their first meeting of 2005, however, by a score of 6-3.
"We're not looking ahead, but that's a regional thing right there," Shelley said. "Whoever Hayden beats now, we have a head-to-head over them and who they beat."
Warner and Jung edged Maranatha Academy's Phil Hayes and Andrew Straub, 6-3, in the No. 2 doubles third-place match.
The only disappointing thing for the doubles teams was that a late tournament format change kept them from having a chance to avenge their early losses and compete for first place. Initially there were supposed to be semifinal and championship matches, but because of a time crunch after Wednesday's rainout the semifinal matches were canceled and replaced with a first-place match and third-place match only.
"The only disappointing thing is that if the tournament went how it originally was supposed to, they'd both be playing in the championship game. That's what they're disappointed about," Shelley said. "They're hungry players. That's what I like about them."
In singles action, LHS sophomore Josh Robinson placed fourth at No. 2 singles. Senior David Billard struggled in the No. 1 post and narrowly missed advancing.
"Josh Robinson, I think he had one day on varsity last year, so this is basically his first go-round," Shelley said. "He got a couple good wins and got lucky a few times on scratches, so he got real good experience getting into the bracket for his first time."
The Lions next play at 3 p.m. Thursday against Paola at Gardner-Edgerton.