CINCINNATI, Ohio— Call it a fitting cap to a long, successful career. This past spring Shannon Schartz stepped down from an illustrious coaching run that spanned four decades. But after 3,000 wins at the helm of the GBHS tennis program, Schartz cashed in on the golden ticket of a lifetime.
While attending the Western and Southern Open tennis tournament in Cincinnati two weeks ago Schartz flipped the coin at center court for the quarterfinal match pitting seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer against Spain’s Feliciano Lopez.
Schartz along with wife Jennifer and son Dane were guests of Troy and Michelle (Potter) Brodie. Brodie is the President and Chief Marketing officer of W&S Agency Group, the company sponsoring the event.
“I’ve been wanting to go to Cincinnati for 20 years,” Schartz said. “My wife’s niece and her husband (Brodie) invited us to attend. The setup was very VIP with box seats and everything.”
Schartz said the timing of the Open was what kept him from attending the annual event up until this year.
“It’s always a curse with the first week of girls tennis,” the coach said. “And since I stepped down from my coaching position I determined that we were going this year. We had the time of our lives and had the opportunity to watch some of the best women’s and men’s tennis players in the world compete.”
Schartz, a GBHS and KU graduate, had set his sights on becoming a debate teacher and had stated he had zero unction to coach sports.
“I never started out wanting to be a coach,” Schartz said. “I was hired for my first job at Rossville High School to coach speech and debate. While I was there they had a need for a girls basketball and volleyball assistant coach and approached me about filling the position, so I agreed and that was really the start of my coaching career.”
Following a two-year stay at Rossville, Schartz returned to his alma mater. As a student, Schartz was a member of the Panther tennis, speech and debate team.
“After a few years I came back to Great Bend because they had an opening to teach junior high social studies,” he said. “The first question they asked in the interview was if I could coach wrestling. I had never even seen a wrestling match but I was willing to try anything.”
It was the junior high assistant wrestling coach’s position that opened the door for Schartz to pursue other opportunities.
“Then they talked me into girls basketball and volleyball and I did that for a couple of years. But finally one year the girls and the boys tennis coaches quit in the same year and I was approached by the AD about coaching tennis. I thought ‘finally somebody’s asking me to coach something I know something about.’”
For Schartz, it was the beginning of 37 years of a stellar girls coaching path that witnessed numerous championships along with record setting win percentages.
“Thirty-seven years is a long run,” said Schartz. “I resigned three times as boys tennis coach but there was always a need for me to come back. Coaching was not so much a career for me as much as a need that had to be filled."
Schartz, who has coached 67 seasons of tennis and 22 seasons of basketball at different levels in Great Bend, has won numerous awards over his career. He also spent the past two seasons coaching the girls and boys middle school teams.
Schartz is a three-time Kansas Coaches Association (KCA) 5A Girls Tennis Coach of the Year (1988, 1998, 2003). He was a recipient of the 1989 Tennis Coach Silver Award issued by Scholastic Coach Magazine and the 1999 NFCA Section 5 Girls Tennis Coach of the Year. He also earned the Kansas District Tennis Outstanding Clinician Award in 2003.
Schartz won the Western Athletic Conference Girls Tennis Coach of the Year three consecutive years (2007, 2008 and 2009) following a WAC Girls Coach of the Year nod in 2003. He then garnered 2012 WAC Boys and Girls Coach of the Year honors and was inducted into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame that same year.
He then added two more WAC Coach of the Year awards for boys and girls tennis in 2013.
The Panther boys had their best season in program history under Schartz in 2012 finishing the season with seven first-place team finishes, three tournament sweeps, a fourth place finish at state and a WAC championship.
Schartz coached the girls’ team to a state championship in 1998. In 2003, his girls squad recorded their best record in program history at 136-29 with a winning percentage of .824. Ten years later he led the Panther girls to a season record of 104-44 and a winning percentage of .707 which is the tenth best finish in the history of the program.
Last season, Schartz’s girls doubles team finished with a season record of 38-1 which is a GBHS record beating a record of 29-1 in 1985 as the highest win percentage in school history.
Doubles standouts Morgan Francis and Macy Moyers had a win percentage of .974. The 1985 record was .967.
It also tied the record for the most wins in a season, knotting a record set in 2008.
Moyers and Francis finished in third place at last year’s state tournament. The WAC champion duet was 35-0 heading into the tournament and posted a strong start with an opening win over Madelyn Comeau and Lauren Strohs of Blue Valley West 6-0, 6-0.
Francis and Moyers remained flawless in the third round, beating a team from Emporia 6-0, 6-0 to advance to the semifinals.
The Great Bend duo slipped against a team from Bishop Carroll losing 7-6 (7-3), 6-0. The two missed out on a rematch against Ark City which would have come in the championship round. That set up a third place match with a pair of region champs Laura Dicus and Jodie Ladner of Topeka West. Moyers and Francis won the bout by scores of 6-0 and 6-0.
Moyers is well on her way to breaking more GBHS records.
The Panther senior is currently the fourth winningest player in school history with a career mark of 107-18. She is 19 victories away from breaking Melanie Schartz’s 125 career win record, a school best. Schartz played for the Panthers from 1997 to 2000. Moyer’s former teammate, Francis (2011-14), who plays for Baker University as a freshman, is the second winningest girls tennis player for Great Bend with 122 wins followed by Shawna Prosser (1982-85) with 119.
As a freshman (2012) Moyers was 33-11 then improved to 36-6 and 38-1 during her sophomore and junior campaigns.
“Those are all a combination of singles and doubles victories,” said coach Schartz. “I would venture to say that in about a week and a half she will have passed Shawna’s record and then into the top spot by the end of the month. It’s very conceivable that she could reach 135 or 140 wins this season.”
Speaking of records, back in Cincinnati, Schartz was able to witness Federer defeat Lopez and then top seeded Novak Djokovic for the tournament crown. Federer beat Djokovic in straight sets for a record seventh Western and Southern Open Title. Many commentators and players regard Federer as the greatest tennis player of all time. Federer turned professional in 1998 and has been ranked inside the top 10 since October 2002.
On the women’s side Serena Williams successfully defended her 2014 title with a straight sets win over Simona Halep. Williams is the first woman to defend in Cincinnati since it became a WTA event in 2004.
According to the tournament’s website, the Western Southern Open, formerly known as the Cincinnati Masters, started on September 18, 1899 and is the oldest tennis tournament in the United States played in its original city.
The tournament is the second largest summer tennis event in the U.S. after the U.S. Open, as its men’s portion is one of nine elite Masters 1000 tournaments on the ATP World Tour and its women’s event is one of five Premier 5 events on the WTA Tour.