Sunflower League tennis
Lawrence and Free State high school tennis teams competed Thursday in a Sunflower League tournament at the Indian Center Recreation Center Thursday, May 1, 2014 in Overland Park.
Overland Park When tennis players play with confidence, each area of their game starts to improve. Now that Free State High junior David Neff is playing with confidence, his opponents are starting to take notice.
Neff medaled for the third time in the past week, taking third place at the Sunflower League boys tennis championships Thursday afternoon at Indian Creek Recreation Center. He helped the Firebirds finish tied with Lawrence High for seventh in the league.
Neff has worked on his serve for the past few weeks in practice during cross-court drills, and it has paid off. He consistently landed his first serve throughout his matches Thursday, using the right mix of speed and spin to puzzle his opponents.
“It’s been a good week,” Neff said. “It’s going down in my history book for top tennis week.”
FSHS coach Oather Strawderman added: “I just think he’s being really aggressive at the baseline, moving people around. Just his groundstroke looks really solid, and I agree with him, I think his serve is improving throughout the course of the year.”
The rest of the Firebirds didn’t have as many positives. Freshman Ian Pultz-Earle took 10th place in No. 1 singles, while Stephen Anderson and Sam Solis placed eighth in No. 1 doubles, and Jackson Schneider and Seamus Ryan placed seventh at No. 2.
“We dug ourselves some pretty deep holes for regionals,” Strawderman said. “We lost to some key regional opponents and finished lower than several key regional opponents, too. So, mixed emotions. Happy for David, he did really great, but some holes we’ll have to dig ourselves out of (at regionals).”
LHS senior Thomas Irick placed third at No. 1 singles, improving on his fourth-place finish last year. He won in the quarterfinals before losing to the league champion, Shawnee Mission East senior and UMKC signee Brooks Kendall, in the semifinals.
“The first set was rough, but as it went I started to play some pretty good tennis,” said Irick, a Baker University signee. “I just struggled to put away the finishing shots, and sometimes you have days like that.”
Irick’s third-place opponent, Olathe North’s Austin Crist, withdrew because of a back injury, and Irick earned third by default. However, Crist’s decision not to play in the match likely will keep him as a higher seed over Irick when regionals begin May 10 at LHS because he owns a 16-1 record this year.
Both of the Lions double teams, Panyin Boye-Doe and Adam Eudaly at No. 1 and Johnathon Kinder and Sam Allen at No. 2, finished in ninth place, while Elliott Abromeit took seventh at No. 2 singles.
Thursday at Indian Creek Recreation Center
Team scores: Shawnee Mission East 52, Olathe Northwest 43, Shawnee Mission Northwest 36, Olathe South 27, Shawnee Mission South 26, Olathe East 25, Free State 24, Lawrence High 24, Shawnee Mission West 23, Olathe North 22, Leavenworth 7, Shawnee Mission North 7.
No. 1 singles
Nick Claerhout, SMS, def. Ian Pultz-Earle, FS, 9-1.
Thomas Irick, LHS, def. Conner Petty, OS, 9-5.
Brooks Kendall, SME, def. Thomas Irick, LHS, 6-1, 6-1.
Ian Pultz-Earle, FS, def. Jerry Duong, SMN, 9-2.
Kyle Sawatzky, SMW, def. Ian Pultz-Earle, FS, 9-5.
Thomas Irick, LHS, won by default over Austin Crist, ON.
No. 2 singles
Oliver Gallego, OS, def. Elliott Abromeit, LHS, 9-5.
David Neff, FS, def. Travis Calvin, SMNW, 9-6.
Thompson Tong, ONW, def. David Neff, FS, 6-0, 6-0.
Weston Funk, OE, def. Elliott Abromeit, LHS, 9-7.
Elliott Abromeit, LHS, def. Alex Atzenweiller, ON, 9-3.
David Neff, FS, def. Oliver Gallego, OS, 6-4, 6-3.
No. 1 doubles
Stephen Anderson/Sam Solis, FS, def. Panyin Boye-Doe/Adam Eudaly, LHS, 9-6.
Dominic Fabiano/Tripp Dearborn, ONW, def. Stephen Anderson/Sam Solis, FS, 9-0.
Panyin Boye-Doe/Adam Eudaly, LHS, def. Seager/Wiggins, LV, 9-7.
David Lietjauw/Saatatya Chakraborty, ON, def. Stephen Anderson/Sam Solis, FS, 9-8 (5).
Panyin Boye-Doe/Adam Eudaly, LHS, def. Russell Hedrick/Zeb Willy, OS, 9-7.
Dylan Hanzlick/Martin Higgins, SMW, def. Stephen Anderson/Sam Solis, FS, 9-2.
No. 2 doubles
Zach Sortino/Justin Lee, OE, def. Johnathon Kinder/Sam Allen, LHS, 9-1.
Jackson Schneider/Seamus Ryan, FS, def. Lott/Arens, LV, 9-3.
Johnathon Kinder/Sam Allen, LHS, def. Keeton O’Brien/Andreas Georgian, ON, 9-3.
Charlie Russell/Nate Sterns, SMNW, def. Jackson Schneider/Seamus Ryan, FS, 9-5.
Johnathon Kinder/Sam Allen, LHS, def. Lott/Arens, LV, 9-4.
Jackson Schneider/Seamus Ryan, FS, def. Zach Sortino/Justin Lee, OE, 9-4.