INDEPENDENCE — Two years removed from a second place finish at the SEK League Tennis Championships, Zach Spriggs of Parsons finally fulfilled a destiny as the senior star won the league’s singles title on Thursday in Independence.
“After not having last season, that was a pretty big accomplishment for him,” Parsons head coach Tyler Beardmore said. “It was also expected, and that’s good. That was a goal he had coming into the season and it’s one he can check off.”
Spriggs dominated the field on Thursday, beating Lawson Collins of Chanute 9-4 and Joel Mathes of Labette County 9-4 in pool play.
Facing off against Sam Grice of Independence in the championship match, Spriggs won 6-1, 6-4 to claim the title.
“I’ve been working hard all year and it shows my working coming to fruition,” Spriggs said. “It’s nice to see stuff pay off.”
Spriggs’ title came after the senior struggled with the decision on whether to return to the sport after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled his junior year.
“The process started in March,” Spriggs said. “I had taken a lot of time off of tennis. It was like starting brand new again. But I’m glad I got back into the groove of things quickly.”
For Beardmore, an SEK League crown was inevitable for Spriggs.
“It all started with the summer after his sophomore season,” Beardmore said. “He worked hard that summer and then picked up where he left off this March. One of the coaches at league said he saw the growth in how much better he’s gotten since his sophomore year. He’s improved every aspect of his game.”
As a team, Parsons finished third in the SEK Tennis Championships with 16 points. Independence ran away with the title with 26 points while Pittsburg claimed second with 16 points.
Chanute was fourth with 12 points, followed by Labette County at 11 points, Fort Scott with eight and then Coffeyville with one.
“Everybody played to their seed,” Beardmore said. “You can’t ever be mad about that. Top three was a goal for us. I don’t know if we thought that would have been the goal a few months ago. But we’ve really improved.”
Beardmore was also pleased with the play of his top doubles team of Tanner Barcus and Davis West, who took fourth place.
Barcus and West beat Kaidan Frederick and Hayden Newton of Chanute 9-7 in the first round of bracket play before falling to top-seeded Brecken Berti and Ryan Stoner 6-2, 6-2.
On the backside of the bracket, Barcus and West beat Coffeyville 9-7 before losing to Newton and Frederick in the third place match.
“We told them that they needed a really good day at SEK to get ready for regionals,” Beardmore said. “By far, they played the best tennis they have all year. They’re playing well at the right time so hopefully they can take that into next weekend.”
Labette County’s Mathes went 2-1 in the No.1. singles division to take third place. Mathes’ lone loss came to Spriggs while he beat Collins of Chanute 9-3 in bracket play then Elijah Self of Fort Scott 6-1, 6-4 in the third place match.
Stoner and Bertie won the No. 1 doubles title with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Cosens.
Labette County’s top doubles team of Dane Detar and Derek Jones beat Coffeyville 9-5 in the first round before falling to second-seeded Bryson Hoffman and Austin Cosens of Pittsburg 1-6, 6-0, 10-7 in the semifinals.
Detar and Jones then lost to Frederick and Newton before winning the fifth place match over Coffeyville.
In the No. 2 singles division, Parsons’ Julius Smith-Reece lost both his pool play matches before taking fifth place with a 9-2 win over over Joseph Jameson of Labette County.
Jameson lost all three matches.
Kale Groff won the No. 2 singles title, beating Jack Cawyer of Pittsburg 6-0, 6-0.
Finally in the No. 2 doubles bracket, Parsons’ Eli Kroger and Xander McScherry lost twice before winning the fifth place match 9-5 over Isaiah Self and Evean Hart of Fort Scott.
Labette County’s Chase Carnahan and John Redford won three times, with their lone loss coming in the semifinals, en route to a third place finish.
Independence’s Camion Julian and Easton Morris won the No. 2 doubles championship with a win over Pittsburg’s Jacob Mathew and Keith Perkins.
Both Parsons and Labette County now prep for the KSHSAA 4A Regional Tournament at Forest Park in Parsons next Saturday.
“Our ones have a really good shot to get into the top six to make state,” Beardmore said. “It’ll be tough for our twos, but you never know. For our ones, that’s the expectation.”