Buogo impresses in first outing
Shawnee The Lansing High boys tennis team could have asked for better weather for it's season-opening event; temperatures in the upper-40s and heavy wind were awfully chilly.
The Lions couldn't have asked for a much better performance, however. Senior Ale Buogo, a senior exchange student from Italy, earned a second-place finish at No. 1 singles. In addition, senior Mo Meyer placed third at No. 2 singles and senior Eric Hansen and junior Joe Goll battled to a fourth-place finish at No. 2 doubles.
LHS placed fourth in the team standings with 16 team points at the 10-team tournament. Miege and Blue Valley tied for first with 21 points apiece, and Maranatha Academy had 20.
Third-year coach Rachel Elkins has been looking forward to Buogo's tennis debut for a while, and he didn't disappoint in his first outing. He had no trouble in pool play as he disposed of Shawnee Mission North's Sean Dreweatt, Baldwin's Brian Lamoreux and Bonner Springs' Kyle Black by 8-1 scores. That earned Buogo a berth in the finals against Bishop Miege's Raphael Maasberg, an exchange student from Germany.
Maasberg raced to a 3-0 lead early in the match before Buogo won a game. Maasberg won the next three for a 6-1 advantage, but Buogo rallied to win the next two. That was as close as he got, however, as Maasberg claimed an 8-3 victory.
"As soon as he has more competition out there and meets more players of his caliber, I think his game will just keep coming up," Elkins said of Buogo.
Meyer had a tough match against Kevin Parelka of Shawnee Mission North in his pool play opener, but Meyer squeaked out an 8-5 victory. After that, he cruised to 8-0 decisions against Joey Labuda of Baldwin and John Jenkins of Bonner Springs. That earned Meyer a spot in the third-place match against Blue Valley's Partha Patel.
Patel built a late lead in their match, but Meyer regrouped late and forced a tiebreaker before earning an 8-7 (7-4) victory.
Elkins said she was proud of Meyer for showing mental toughness despite the weather and despite the adversity he faced in a big match. She said that would pay dividends later in the season.
"Coming off last year, the mental toughness, that's just carrying over to this year," Elkins said of Meyer. "He has the ability to get down in the match by (a few) games. Mentally, he's tough, and he's able to pull himself out of that, get into a high-stress situation like a tie-break and go ahead and finish that out and win the match. To me that's important, particularly early on in the season, to get into that situation where it's a tie-break and it's a point here or there, and he was able to close the door. That's important to me. That shows me he's ready to progress into the season.
Hansen and Goll opened the tournament on a tear as they cruised to 8-4 victories in all three of their matches in pool play. Their only setback came in the third-place match when they fell to Bishop Miege in a tiebreaker, 8-7 (7-2).
Elkins said the duo was in sync all day, and she said their performance gave them a solid foundation for their season.
"The two play well together," Elkins said. "The more competition they see, the better they'll get. I thought they moved in tandem fairly well. With the exception of this last match, they were able to come back and close the door."
Lansing's No. 1 doubles pair of juniors Ezra Carpenter and Clayton Hall posted a 1-2 record. They dropped their opener in a tiebreaker, 8-7 (7-4), to Shawnee Mission North's Joey Sportsman and Sam Davis before splitting their final two matches.
"Quite frankly, they had an off-day," Elkins said. "But they're tough competitors, and I see them saying 'what do we take from this? That we've really got to get out of the gate quick and close the door.' They'll learn from it and get better."
The Lions next compete against Paola at 3 p.m. Thursday, April 3, at Gardner-Edgerton.