BY JIM MISUNAS
The biggest surprise of the day occurred when Great Bend tennis coach Joe Bliven was named Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year following Monday’s WAC Tournament.
Bliven said he was honored to be recognized.
‘I was really surprised and had no idea I’d be recognized,” Bliven said. “It felt good for our tennis program to be recognized by the league coaches for our improvement.”
Garden City’s No. 1 singles champion Huy Nguyen (4-0) was named WAC Player of the Year. Garden City (12) edged Dodge City (10) and Hays High (10) for first place at windswept Shannon Schartz courts with wind blowing 35 to 40 mph. Garden City’s No. 1 doubles Will Keller-Dan Darter (4-0) placed first.
The WAC teams competed in Garden City’s round-robin last week, but Garden City’s Nguyen was the only repeat champion. Hays High’s No. 2 singles Eli Booth (4-0) and Dodge City’s No. 2 doubles Lakin Scheck-Josiah Thomas (4-0) captured WAC titles.
Booth beat last week’s No. 2 singles champion Matthew Phillips of Great Bend after losing 8-3 last week. Scheck and Thomas failed to beat Garden City’s No. 3 doubles team last week, but finished with a 4-0 record.
Great Bend’s highlight was a runner-up finish by No. 1 doubles Robert Frizell-Israel Esparza (3-1). Frizell and Esparza played mistake-free tennis with winning shots to upset Hays High’s Logan Clark-Zac Wyse for the first time all season. The Indians had edged the Panthers 8-6 at Garden City last week. This time, Frizell and Esparza took advantage of every Indian mistake and hit superior lobs and passing shots. Keller and Darter downed Frizell-Esparza, 8-2 for first place.
“Beating Hays was a huge win,” Bliven said. “We were awfully pleased with their performance. They closed hard on their openings and executed the shots they’d practiced. The wind was a factor. But we’ve played and practiced all year in windy conditions. The players handled it really well today.”
No. 2 singles Phillips (1-3) beat Garden City’s Nathan Morren 8-3, but lost 8-1 to Morren Tuesday. Great Bend’s No. 1 singles Alex Smith (0-4) finished fifth after losing a hard-fought 8-7 (7-1) tiebreaker to Dodge City’s runner-up Bryce Harmon, the second-best player.
Great Bend’s No. 2 doubles Malalchi Williams-Hayden Honomichl (2-2) were involved in a three-way tie for second place. Williams and Honomichl lost an 8-7 (7-5) tiebreaker to Hays High’s Seth Shorb-Brandon Kennemer for the runner-up spot.
1—Garden City 12
2—Dodge City 10
2—Hays High 10
4—Great Bend 6
NO. 1 SINGLES
1—Huy Nguyen, GC, 4-0
2—Bryce Harmon, DC, 3-1
3—Drew Morley, HH, 2-2
4—Erick Rodriguez, L, 1-3
5—Alex Smith, GB, 0-4
Nguyen def. Harmon, DC, 8-5; Nguyen def. Morley, HH, 8-4; Nguyen def. Smith, GB, 8-1; Nguyen def. Rodriguez, L, 8-2
Harmon, DC def. Smith, 8-7 (7-1); Morley, HH def. Smith, 8-1; Rodriguez, L def. Smith, 8-1
NO. 1 DOUBLES
1—Will Keller-Dan Darter, GC, 4-0
2—Robert Frizell-Israel Esparza, GB, 3-1
3—Logan Clark-Zac Wyse, HH, 2-2
4—Calen Moore-Duncan Hinz, L, 1-3
5—Alex Ramirez-Cannon Bunkall, DC, 0-4
Carrera-Chacon def. Frizell-Esparza, GB, 8-2; Carrera-Chacon def. Clark-Wyse, HH, 8-5; Carrera-Chacon def. Moore-Hinz, L, 8-2; Carrera-Chacon def. Raimirez-Bunkall, DC, 8-1
Frizell-Esparza def. Clark-Wyse, HH, 8-4; Frizell-Esparza def. Ramirez-Bunkall, DC, 8-4; Frizell-Esparza def. Moore-Hinz, L, 8-4
NO. 2 SINGLES
1—Eli Booth, HH, 4-0
2—Daniel Gogan, DC, 3-1
3—Nathan Morren, GC, 2-2
4—Matthew Phillips, GB, 1-3
5—Marcelino Barrientos, L, 0-4
Booth def. Gogan, DC, 8-5; Booth def. Morren, GC, 8-5; Booth def. Phillips, GB, 8-1; Booth def. Barrientos, L, 8-0
Gogan, DC def. Phillips, 8-4; Morren, GC def. Phillips, 8-1; Phillips def. Barrientos, L, 8-0
NO. 2 DOUBLES
1—Lakin Scheck-Josiah Thomas, DC, 4-0
2—Brian Carrera-Dan Chacon, GC, 2-2 (58%)
3—Malachi Williams-Hayden Honomichl, GB, 2-2 (51%)
4—Seth Shorb-Brandon Kennemer, HH, 2-2 (49%)
5—David Perez-Jack Maxwell, L, 0-4
Scheck-Thomas def. Carrerea-Thomas, GC, 8-5; Scheck-Thomas def. Shorb-Kennemer, HH, 8-5; Scheck-Thomas def. Williams-Honomichl, GB, 8-2; Scheck-Thomas def. Perez-Maxwell, L, 8-2
Williams-Honomichl def. Carrera-Chacoon, GC, 8-4; Shorb-Kennemer, HH def. Williams-Honomichl, 8-7 (7-5); Williams-Honomichl def. Perez-Maxwell, L, 8-4