INDEPENDENCE — Zach Spriggs of Parsons continued his climb up the ladder on Friday, following up his SEK League singles title with a KSHSAA 4A Regional singles championship to punch his ticket to the state tournament.
Spriggs cruised through his first two matches, beating Joseph Jameson of Labette County 6-0, 6-0 and Joel Mathes of Labette County 6-1, 6-2 to earn a spot in the title match.
There, Spriggs faltered early against Independence’s Kale Groff as he dropped the first set 7-6 (3). But Spriggs bounced back and won the next two sets 6-1, 6-4 over Groff to claim the title.
“In that championship match, he was inconsistent in that first set,” Parsons head coach Tyler Beardmore said. “I was really proud of him in the second two sets in how he ignored that first set and played tennis the way he’s supposed to.”
“It was one of my goals at the beginning of the season, so it’s nice to check another thing off the list,” Spriggs added. “In the first set of the championship, I didn’t play my game. But I turned it up a notch and played in a way I knew I was capable of.”
Labette County’s Mathes also punched a ticket to the state tournament, finishing in fourth place.
Mathes got a bye in the first round before beating Elijah Self of Fort Scott 6-2, 6-4 to earn a bid to the semifinals. After losing to eventual champion Springs, Mathes lost the third place match to Sam Grice of Independence 6-3, 6-3.
“The go-to answer is that last year got cut off with COVID-19, so this year gave me a new opportunity,” Mathes said. “I’ve never been to state tennis, so this is definitely an exciting experience.”
Jameson of Labette County fell one victory shy of a state tournament berth. He beat Xander McSherry of Parsons in the first round 6-2, 6-3 before also losing to Spriggs. Jameson was then eliminated by Self 6-3, 6-1.
In the doubles bracket, Labette County qualified both of its teams to state.
Dane DeTar and Derek Jones started regionals off with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Fort Scott before falling 6-3, 6-4 to Chanute in the quarterfinals.
On the backside of the bracket, DeTar and Jones rebounded with a 6-1, 7-6 (4) win over Coffeyville to punch its ticket to state. The pair then lost a fifth place match to their teammates, Chase Carnahan and John Redford.
Carnahan and Redford shutout Coffeyville 6-0, 6-0 to start the tournament before falling to Tanner Barcus and Davis West of Parsons 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals. The Labette County duo then qualified to state with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Chanute.
Parsons’ duo of Barcus and West took fourth place in the doubles division to also qualify for the state championships. After getting a bye and a win over Carnahan and Redford, Barcus and West fell to Independence 6-2, 6-3 in the semifinals. The pair then lost the third place match to Chanute 6-1, 6-4.
“I’m really happy with them getting fourth,” Beardmore said. “They’re playing their best tennis of the year right now. Having a goal for them to get a medal at the state tournament is a good goal for him.”
Parsons’ other doubles pair of Julius Smith-Reece and Eli Kroger lost their first match to Chanute 6-2, 6-0 and were eliminated.
Independence, who ended up hosting the second half of the regional tournament after it started in Parsons but was moved due to rain, won the regional title in dominant fashion with 24 points.
Parsons took second as a team with 11 points, while Labette County was third with 10. Chanute was fourth with nine points, followed by Fort Scott with three then Coffeyville with one.
Seedings for the KSHSAA 4A Boys Tennis State Championships in Topeka, which start on Friday, will be drawn up on Wednesday.
For Spriggs, he will be one of four top seeds and get a bye.
“He’s got to believe in himself and trust in himself the way we believe in himself as coaches,” Beardmore said. “Top four is a conservative goal. We both want more than that.”
Spriggs isn’t as measured in his expectations.
“My goal is to win it,” Spriggs said.
KSHSAA 4A REGIONAL
1. Independence, 24
2. Parsons, 11
3. Labette County, 10
4. Chanute, 9
5. Fort Scott, 3
6. Coffeyville, 1
Singles State Qualifiers
1. Zach Spriggs, Parsons
2. Kale Groff, Independence
3. Sam Grice, Independence
4. Joel Mathes, Labette County
5. Lawson Collins, Chanute
6. Elijah Self, Fort Scott
Doubles State Qualifiers
1. Bertie/Stoner, Independence
2. Morris/Julian, Independence
3. Frederick/Newton, Chanute
4. Barcus/West, Parsons
5. Carnahan/Redford, Labette County
6. DeTar/Jones, Labette County