INDEPENDENCE — Returning to Independence for the second time in a week, the Parsons Vikings claimed runner-up at the KSHSAA 4A Boys Tennis Regional Championships on Thursday and Friday.
Independence, the defending state champions, won the region title with 23 points. Parsons claimed second with 20 points, followed by Chanute (7), Coffeyville and Fort Scott (4), with Iola and Labette County scoring zero.
All six players for Parsons qualified for the state tournament in Pratt this week.
“One of our goals at the start of the season was to get all six guys to state,” Parsons head coach Jane Posch said. “Looking at the league, we felt that could happen. It got a little scary at the end, but our guys pulled it out.”
Wyatt Shultz finished in second place in singles for Parsons. Playing on a hurt ankle, Shultz had a first-round bye and defeated Jane DeMott of Fort Scott, 6-2, 6-0, in the quarterfinals.
Shultz was pushed by teammate Tanner Nolting in the semifinals in the first set before winning, 7-6 (7), 6-1.
In the finals, Shultz was bested by state runner-up Kale Groff, 6-4, 6-4.
“He started off carefully because we didn’t know if he would make it through the tournament, but his ankle felt good,” Posch said. “When he realized that it wasn’t hindering his mobility, he went on and played really well. I wish we would’ve played a little differently in the final match.”
Nolting stitched together perhaps his best tournament of the season.
The sophomore blanked Creighton Wiles, 6-0, 6-0, in the first round and dispatched Noah Vogel, 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
After eating the loss to Shultz, Nolting capped his day with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Independence’s Owen Clapp to claim third place.
“Tanner had an outstanding tournament,” Posch said. “He went toe-to-toe with Wyatt in the first set. He practices with him every day and that’s an advantage for both of them. Tanner is a No. 1 player that happens to play the No. 2 spot. He showed off his abilities at regionals.”
In doubles, Parsons’ Davis West and Conner Barcus claimed a runner-up finish, losing to Independence’s Easton Morris and Camdon Julian in the finals, 6-2, 6-2.
The Parsons duo advanced to the championship with a thrilling three-set win over Aiden Denny and Tucker Gregory of Independence, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-4. It marked the second time in the week the two teams battled out a three-set match, with Parsons also winning at the SEK League Championships.
“It was huge to get that win over Independence’s second doubles team,” Posch said. “We’ve got that win twice, now. So now we know we can compete with anybody in state. We feel pretty good.”
Davion Holman and Cole Kennett of Parsons outlasted Chanute’s Hector Garnica and Jaxson Vaughan, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1, in the fifth place match to punctuate the day.
“They were tired when it was all said and done, but they knew the difference and what it meant,” Posch said. “They played so hard in that third set. They were in better shape and were really motivated to win it.”
All six players for Parsons advance to Friday’s state tournament in Pratt. Shultz will be one of four No. 2 seeds, Nolting will be a No. 3 seed, Barcus and West No. 2 and Holman and Kennett No. 5.
“I think we can be in the top-three. We’ve got a good measure of being successful with everybody on the team having over 20 wins this season,” Posch said.
Despite the Vikings’ youth — West is the only senior on the roster — hopes are skyrocketed for Parsons’ prospects at state.
“Even though we’re young,” Posch said, “you have to have high expectations. Your kids have to believe they can be in the top-five, that’s how that can happen.”
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