SALINA — In sports, it’s always good to have goals.
Now that five of the six varsity players from the Great Bend High School boys’ tennis team have qualified for the Class 5A state tournament, they have set their eyes on their next goal — be the best in school history.
Panthers singles player Nick Moyers and doubles team Austin Jacobs and Chase Buntain finished fourth in their respective competitions on Friday evening at Salina Central. Doubles team Grant Harris and Adam Neeland also qualified for this coming weekend's Class 5A state tourney in Emporia after finishing sixth.
Patrick McCluckey fell in the first round of singles competition.
“I thought we played really well,” Great Bend head coach Shannon Schartz said. “We played tough in close points. We won some tough matches. We had the No. 1-ranked team in the state in our regional, Salina Central, so we did pretty well.”
The Panthers finished third overall, losing to second place to Newton in a win-percentage tiebreaker.
Now the athletes have turned their gaze on another goal.
“Those guys wanted me to look it up because they wanted to finish higher,” Schartz said. “Our best team finish was in 2003. We took seventh overall. We had two singles players who finished eighth and ninth, and a doubles team that finished in 10th.
“They will all need to finish in the top 10, and I think they can do it. Their objective is to do better.”
The state tournament will be held at Emporia High School, starting on Friday and finishing on Saturday.
Buntain and Jacobs matched up against the second-seeded and eventual doubles champions from Salina Central — Justin Bengtson and Nathan Garlow — in a semifinal match, falling in a tiebreaker 7-3.
“We played pretty well in our first match against Maize South,” Jacobs said. “Against Newton, we kind of fell apart in the first set, but we pulled it together in the second.
“We played well against Central. Considering they took first as a team and in the doubles competition and we played them to a tiebreaker, I was pretty happy with that.”
Jacobs, a senior, qualified for the state tournament for the first time.
“All the hard work and pain I’ve put in over the last four years has finally paid off,” Jacobs said. “I finally get to experience state with my teammates.
“When I was a sophomore with Nick Moyers, we lost in the qualifying match. Then as a junior, I had an abdominal injury, and I lost. Now I get to go.”
Moyers won two matches before facing Salina Central’s Jack Weiner in a semifinal match. Weiner, who captured a regional championship due to an injury default by his opponent in the title match, won 6-2, 6-1.
Neeland and Harris won their first match, but fell in a quarterfinal match against Bengtson and Garlow. The Great Bend combination was able to beat one of Newton’s doubles teams, 6-4, 6-3, to guarantee a spot at the state tourney.
HIGH SCHOOL TENNIS
Class 5A Regional Tournament
Salina Central High School
1. Salina Central, 26; 2. Newton, 10; 3. Great Bend, 10; 4. Salina South, 5; 5. Valley Center, 5; 6. Maize South, 2; 7. Hays, 0
Great Bend results
Singles — Nick Moyers def. Logan Harner, Salina South, 6-0, 6-0; def. Colin Adams, Maize South, 6-4, 6-0; lost to Jack Weiner, Salina Central, 6-2, 6-1; lost to Matthew Dolezal, Valley Center, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4)
Singles — Patrick McCluskey lost to Matt Berneking, Salina South, 6-1, 6-1
Doubles — Austin Jacobs & Chase Buntain def. Wehking & Hassouneh, Maize South, 6-0, 6-1; def. Ford & Bontrager, Newton, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2; lost to Bengtson & Garlow, Salina Central, 6-4, 6-1; lost to Kingsley & Carlgren, Newton, 7-6 (7-0), 6-2
Doubles — Adam Neeland & Grant Harris def. DeGarmo & Buffo, Valley Center, 6-4, 6-1; lost to Bengtson & Garlow, Salina Central, 6-4, 6-1; def. Ford & Bontrager, Newton, 6-4, 6-3; lost to Carey & Kerns, Salina South, 6-3, 6-4