Tennis second at De Soto
Lions narrowly miss title despite playing shorthanded
De Soto The Lansing High tennis team played shorthanded on Saturday at the De Soto Tournament and the Lions in attendance weren't at their very best.
Still, they played good enough to place second in the eight-team tournament. LHS missed the team title by just two points. Gardner won the title with 28 points while Lansing was second with 26.
LHS first-year coach Bryan Shelley said he wasn't pleased with the runner-up finish because his squad didn't play its best tennis, but he said he wasn't disappointed in the Lions' final tune-up before the May 16 regional meet either.
"Today we got second, and that's fine," Shelley said. "We didn't lose momentum. We didn't gain momentum, but we didn't lose it."
Weather conditions made for a frustrating day for most players in the tournament field. Although temperatures were warm, a strong wind made serving difficult. Even more challenging was returning shots with a tailwind. Two short rain showers caused delays as well.
In addition to the weather, the Lions were challenged by a roster shakeup. Junior Shawn Jung missed the tournament to take his SAT tests so senior David Billard - Lansing's usual No. 1 singles player - joined junior Matt Warner at No. 2 doubles. Sophomore Josh Robinson was bumped up to No. 1 singles and seniors Chris Bristow and Chris Hancock held down their usual slot at No. 1 doubles.
Sophomore Kalon Thrasher was slated to play No. 2 singles but a back injury forced him to withdraw from the tournament. As a result, LHS played a man short.
The extra adversity didn't faze Lansing much as it won its share of matches. Robinson posted a 3-2 record and placed seventh overall in singles. His victories came by 8-0, 8-2 and 8-0 margins as he won each match in dominating fashion.
Bristow and Hancock placed fifth overall in doubles as they went 4-1 on the day. Their lone loss came to the eventual tournament runner-up from Gardner. In that match there were a series of questionable "out" calls in both directions and tensions became heated. Bristow and Hancock continued to battle though, and they rallied from a 7-4 deficit to tie the match before falling 9-7.
That lone loss came in the second round. Afterwards the senior duo rattled off three straight victories by scores of 8-0, 8-2 and 8-3.
Billard and Warner teamed in doubles for the first time all season and they battled to a third-place finish and a 3-1 record. They won their opener against Immaculata 8-0 and then squeaked past Paola by a 9-8 margin. After taking a 3-2 lead against De Soto, the Wildcat duo won the final six games for a 8-3 win.
Billard and Warner faced the top-seeded duo from Ottawa in the third place match and they quickly fell behind 5-3. Warner broke a string on his primary racket earlier in the day and let the backup racket frustrate him. He finally settled down, though, and he and Billard built momentum. Billard's play from the back and Warner's dominating short game at the net began to frustrate the Ottawa pair. Billard and Warner rattled off five straight victories and earned a third-place finish as they won the match 8-5.
The Lions don't have any more matches until May 16 when they travel to Topeka for the Class 5A regional meet. Other regional opponents are Topeka West, Shawnee Heights, Highland Park, Topeka Seaman, Washington and Turner.