INDEPENDENCE — For the first time since 2012, the Parsons Vikings boys tennis team captured the SEK League championship on Thursday, scoring 21 points at the league meet to tie with Independence for a share of the crown.
“We’ve got a lot of kids that are seniors, so this was the year we were hoping we could win SEK,” Parsons head coach Jane Posch said. “We’re not weak at any spot in our lineup. It went down to the very last match. We knew we’d have to win at doubles for us to have a chance.”
Pittsburg took third at the SEK Tennis Championships with 19 points. Chanute was fourth with 12th, followed by Labette County with eight then Fort Scott with seven.
For Parsons at No. 1 singles, Zach Spriggs took second place. Spriggs defeated Noah Eytcheson of Coffeyville 8-0 in the first round, Logan Payne of Independence 8-6 in the semifinals then lost to Devin McAfee of Pittsburg 3,0 in the championship round.
“He’s a very level headed kid that’s calm, coachable and has a lot of athletic ability,” Posch said. “It was a pretty high stress day for him, but he kept his composure. That’s awesome for a sophomore to keep playing like that. He keeps improving every time out.”
The league utilized pool play for the other three brackets.
At No. 2 singles, Parsons’ Carlos Collins took third place. Collins went beat Elijah Self of Fort Scott 8-4 in pool play before falling to Sam Grice of Independence 8-2. Collins then lost to Dakota Candle of Pittsburg 8-1 before winning the third place match 5,6 (6) over Chanute’s Jay Brown.
“This was a good spot for him,” Posch said. “He’ll probably get the No. 6 seed at regionals. We’re hoping we can squeeze him in to go to state.”
Trey Martinez and Isaac Stringer captured the No. 1 doubles title for Parsons. The duo swept its three matches in pool play, defeating Griffin Cooper and Paul Worsley of Pittsburg 8-1 and Brayden Frederick and Hayden Newton of Chanute 8-5. Martinez and Stringer then beat Allen Santana and Nick Patton of Fort Scott 8-6 in the penultimate match before ousting Sawyer Hayward and Dom Mendoza of Independence in the championship.
“Trey and Isaac don’t get upset, they just stay even keeled,” Posch said. “If they’re down, they’re still playing the same way. They do everything right, which makes it easier for them. Trey plays the net like a beast. And Isaac is just steady with a lot of pace on his shots. That gives Trey opportunities to put balls away at the net.”
Finally for the Vikings, Julian Nance and Trevor Strathe took second place at No. 2 doubles. The two opened pool play with an 8-1 win over Shekhar Gugnani and Neil Gugnani of Fort Scott before downing Chase Carnahan and Derek Jones of Labette County 8-2. Jake Russian and Bryson Hoffman of Pittsburg then lost to Parsons 8-1 before Nance and Strathe lost to Samson May and Ryan Stoner of Independence 3,5 in the finals.
“Trevor has done everything we asked of him this year,” Posch said. “Wherever we needed him to be. You love a kid like that. We ultimately wanted him to play doubles with Julian. Playing some singles matches made him better. Him and Julian are a great combination. We’re hoping to get them in a good spot in the bracket for regionals.”
For Labette County at No. 1 singles, Lane Farrow went 1-2 to take fifth place. At No. 2 singles, John Redford went 0-3 in pool play. As for No. 1 doubles, Luke Falkenstein and Joel Mathes went 0-3 in pool play. Finally in No. 2 doubles, Carnahan and Jones went 1-2.
Posch said after the meet that her team’s title was a culmination of the first of her team’s goals from the onset of the spring campaign.
“That was our first goal of the season, to be able to get the seeds and have a chance to win the SEK,” Posch said. “Everybody all had to play their seed or above it. That’s what Trey and Isaac did, I knew they had to win at No. 1 doubles to win the league. We knew it’d be between us and Independence.”
Now the Vikings and Grizzlies gear up for the KSHSAA 4A Regional Tournament at Chanute next Friday.
“It’s nice to know what we have as a lineup and what we’ll do,” Posch said. “That takes a lot of pressure off. It’s been difficult all season to get guys in the right places with the right seeds. We just need to have great practices next week and get our doubles teams more reps.”
Posch is hopeful for her entire squad to qualify for the state tournament.
“I reserved rooms for all six of them,” Posch said. “They all have a chance, and we want to take all six guys. You never know how the bracket will play out. But we want all of them to go and for us to win regionals as a team.”