On Friday, Great Bend High School’s Grant Harris will compete in the Class 5A State Tennis Tournament in Topeka.
It’s not the first time he’s made the trip.
It will be the first time he’s made the trip alone, as Harris qualified last year as a part of a doubles team with Adam Neeland.
“I’m excited,” Harris said. “This is the first time I’ve gone for singles. Last year, I went as doubles.”
That’s OK. Harris prefers flying solo.
“I much prefer just to be by myself,” Harris said. “Between matches, I like to just settle in a little bit and keep focused on what I’m doing.”
It makes a difference on the court as well.
“It’s a lot different,” Harris said. “It’s a lot more physical. There’s a lot more running. You have to cover the whole court, but you still just have to go out and play.”
Harris’ doubles team placed 10th last year. His experience has him prepared.
“I’m definitely not near as nervous as I was last year,” Harris said. “I know what to expect. State’s different. State’s a two-day tournament, so I know how to play two days instead of one.”
After his fifth-place finish at a regional tournament in Valley Center, Harris will have a chance to top that in the singles field.
“He got a No. 8 seed (at the regional tournament),” GBHS head coach Zachary Bartel said. “It’s not as good as we’d hoped, and probably not as good as he deserved, but we just told him he just has to beat them and earn it.
“He didn’t really flinch at all. He was kind of surprised he was an eight seed, but he took a business-like approach to it.
A match earlier in the season came back to haunt Harris.
“There was this seeding meeting,” Harris said. “I had an indirect loss against another player. That knocked me down from a third or fourth seed to an eighth seed. I knew I would have to work hard.”
He got out of the first round, winning 6-2, 6-2.
“He played Maize South kid in the first round and beat him pretty handily and then he ran into the No. 1 seed,” Bartel said. “He played some competitive points with him, but after he lost the first round, he decided not to kill himself.”
The No. 1 seed, Jack Weiner of Salina Central, went on to win the singles competition, and Harris went on to qualify for the state tournament with two more wins, in spite of the loss.
“I actually had to play the No. 1 seed in the second round,” Harris said. “I made sure not to use all of my energy because I knew that would not be one of the easier matches to win. My third match would be a lot easier and I knew I could still qualify.
“I definitely wouldn’t have done that last year. I pay more attention to detail.”
HIGH SCHOOL TENNIS
Class 5A Regional Tournament
At Valley Center
1. Salina Central, 22; 2. Newton, 17; 3. Maize South, 7; 4. Salina South, 5; 5. Valley Center, 4; 6. Great Bend, 3; 7. Hays, 0
1. Jack Weiner, Salina Central; 2. Preston Ford, Newton; 3. Zach Hilbig, Salina Central; 4. Zach Woods, Maize South; 5. Grant Harris, Great Bend; 6. Ray Strunk, Valley Center
Great Bend results
Grant Harris — Def. Adams, Maize South (6-2, 6-2); Lost to Weiner, Salina Central (6-0, 6-0); Def. Kremeier, Newton (6-1, 6-0); def. Strunk, Valley Center (6-1,6-2)
Jun Rui Chen — Lost to Hilbig, Salina Central (6-1, 6-2)
1. Josh Carlgren & Riley Kingsley, Newton; 2. Zachary Hampton, Salina Central; 3. Pierce Carey & Matt Berneking, Salina South; 4. Thomas Hampton & J.D. McHenry, Salina Central; 5. Shawn Bontrager & Adam Ford, Newton; 6. Kellen Fibly & Cole Hardin, Maize South
Great Bend results
Daniel Marshall & Justin Kuhlman — Lost to Hampton & McHenry, Salina Central (6-1, 6-1)
Jermaine Lopez & Santiago Talamantes — Lost to Carey & Berneking, Salina South (6-0, 6-0)