Doubles duos get state nod
Topeka Lansing High tennis doubles partners Chris Bristow and Chris Hancock have squared off with teammates Shawn Jung and Matt Warner dozens of times during practice this season, but prior to their Class 5A regional semifinal matchup Monday at the Kossover Tennis Center they'd never played each other during a meet.
Just like their pairings in practice, seniors Bristow and Hancock defeated juniors Jung and Warner. Both doubles duos were able to celebrate before and after the match, however, because both already were headed to state for the first time in their careers.
The top four in each event at regionals advance to state. Bristow and Hancock placed second overall in doubles while Jung and Warner finished fourth.
"We play each other probably every day in practice and that was definitely the toughest we've played each other," Bristow said of the intrasquad showdown. "Tempers were flaring and it was big, but I'm glad we got to play them and I'm glad we won."
The first set between the teammates was tight throughout. At one point it was tied at 4-4 before Bristow and Hancock won the final two games to win the match. They then swept the second match 6-0 to advance to the finals.
Hancock said the Lansing vs. Lansing matchup was the highlight of a day where almost everything fell into place for the No. 1 doubles squad.
"It was amazing," he said. "Just to begin the day we got the No. 2-seed, then we had a bye in the first round and had a match against Mill Valley's team which we'd already beat before. We played a horrible game in the first match and still won it and then got to play our No. 2's."
The semifinal match among teammates took enough of a toll on both squads that it may have contributed to their losses in the championship and consolation finals. Admittedly, both sides were a bit tired.
"It definitely takes more out of you when you're playing a rival, especially someone from your own team," Bristow said. "You want to win so bad and you've played them so many times that everything's a little harder."
Bristow and Hancock were swept, 6-0, 6-0, in the finals by Topeka West's top doubles pair. Meanwhile, Jung and Warner lost the third-place match to West's No. 2 doubles team. They were forced to withdraw late in the second set after a quadriceps injury to Jung became too overbearing. Jung tried to play through the pain but LHS coach Bryan Shelley eventually called the match in order to avoid making the injury any worse.
Jung and Warner's most impressive victory came in the quarterfinals when they upset the tournament's No. 3-seed in a tiebreaker. That match was so draining that Jung said it contributed to his injury flaring up.
"My quad just started acting up," Jung said. "It was cramped. It's been four games, so all day, and especially the qualifying match was really hard because they made us run a lot."
LHS singles players Josh Robinson and David Billard didn't qualify for state. Robinson played one of his best matches of the season but was paired against No. 3-seed Andrew Shipp of Shawnee Heights and ultimately lost, 6-4, 6-0. Billard came one victory shy of a state berth as he won his first match, 6-3, 6-0, against Juan Villotta of Topeka Seaman before falling to fourth-seed Cody Tenbrink of Topeka West, 6-3, 6-0, in the quarterfinals.
The state tournament will take place on Friday and Saturday at Kossover. It will be a double-elimination tournament.