Qualifying five boys’ players for the Class 5A state tennis tournament this weekend is the most ever from Great Bend High School.
Panthers head coach Shannon Schartz is taking No. 1 singles player Nick Moyers and two doubles teams — Austin Jacobs/Chase Buntain and Grant Harris/Adam Neeland — to Emporia High School for Friday’s and Saturday’s state competition.
“This is the most we’ve had going to state in school history,” Schartz said. “We had four boys in 2003 — two singles players and a doubles team — make it to state.
“Our goal is to have everybody medal at state. The 2003 team finished seventh at state, and they want to finish higher than that.”
A decade later, the Panthers, coming off a third-place finish in regional play at Salina last weekend, the two-time Western Athletic Conference champions want to set some more milestones.
“I think we’re capable of that,” Schartz said. “It’s just going to depend on how we play.”
Moyers, the WAC Player of the Year this season, takes a 27-6 record into the state competition.
“I think he’s the best all-around tennis player that I have ever had here,” Schartz said of Moyers. “I’ve been a head coach for boys tennis for about 20 years and an assistant for 10 years.
“Nick combines consistency with power and he has a great second serve, probably the best second serve we’ve ever had.”
An unrelenting sort, he doesn’t let up, either, according to Schartz.
“That’s kind of rare,” Schartz said. “We really have three of them. Along with Nick, Austin and Chase don’t let up on their second serves, either.
“As far as second serves going around, these are three of the best servers that we’ve ever had.”
Jacobs and Buntain registered a 28-5 record.
“They can also return very well and have a lot of power,” Schartz said. “This is probably one of the most powerful doubles team we’ve ever had.”
As far as that second serve, it goes a long way in establishing themselves.
“Our second serve has about 70 to 80 percent (success rate),” Jacobs said, “and we really like taking our chances with our second serve because the player at the net isn’t going to have a ball pounded down their throat.
“It really sets you up to put the ball away or return the ball back. That’s why we really like it because we don’t want to dink the ball over the net.”
Harris, the WAC Player of the Year as a singles player in 2012 as a freshman, brings experience and depth to his playing partner, Neeland, who had a 19-1 record in No. 2 doubles with Patrick McCluskey.
“Grant had a 19-2 record at No. 2 singles during the regular season,” Schartz said, “and Adam, playing with Patrick McCluskey, had a 19-1 record at No. 2 doubles.”
As a sophomore, Harris is the only non-senior of the state competitors.
“I was actually thinking about asking Coach Schartz about moving me to doubles a couple days before he asked me,” Harris said. “I feel that I could have made it to state in singles, but I feel like we have a better chance of placing at state in doubles, which will help the team.
“It all worked out in the end.”
• CLASS 5A STATE
Emporia High School
Great Bend entries
Nick Moyers, 27-6
Austin Jacobs/Chase Buntain, 28-5
Adam Neeland/Grant Harris, 7-5