Seniors aiming for state
Billard, Bristow, Nelson seeking first state bids
Graduation is important to Chris Bristow, Chris Hancock and David Billard. Make no mistake about that.
If it came down to choosing between attending the Lansing High graduation festivities on May 20-21 or playing in the Class 5A state tennis tournament that falls on those same days, the choice would be a no-brainer.
"I think I'd have to go to state," said Billard who, along with Bristow and Hancock, are the lone seniors on the LHS tennis team. "I'm going to graduate from college, but state is something I'm never going to get another shot at."
None of the seniors have been to the state tournament before and all are hoping to earn a bid at the regional meet on Monday at the Kossover Tennis Center in Topeka.
The Lions' regional lineup will be the same they have used all season. Billard will play No. 1 singles and sophomore Josh Robinson will go at No. 2 singles. Bristow and Hancock will fill the No. 1 doubles slot. Juniors Shawn Jung and Matt Warner will be the No. 2 doubles duo.
LHS first-year coach Bryan Shelley said he thought his full squad had a chance to qualify for state if everything fell into place. The regional lineup consists of Lansing, Turner, Washington, Shawnee Heights, Highland Park, Topeka Seaman and Topeka West. Turner, Washington and Hi-Park aren't known for their tennis, so Shelley said it could be a four-team race for most of the state bids.
The Lions don't just have their sights set on qualifying for state though. They also want a team regional championship - something no LHS team has accomplished before, according to team members.
"That's what I really want," Bristow said. "Lansing has never won a regional, and to do it in 5A I think would be huge."
Shelley said this could be the best tennis team in Lansing history and he said his players want to prove that when they head to regionals. He said it should be a four-team race for the championship and he sees the Lions at the top of the list.
"In my eyes we're the favorite," Shelley said. "I think our whole team feels in our own eyes that we're the favorites, and I like that. I like our attitude going into it. Our team feels that it's our regional tournament to lose and we've got a lot of upperclassmen that really want it."