Free State, LHS boys tennis poised for strong showing at state

photo by: Conner Becker/Journal-World

Lawrence High freshman Jack Bauch returns a serve during the Lawrence High Invitational on Friday, April 21, 2023 at Lawrence High School.

Six tennis players — four from Free State and two from Lawrence High — will be representing the city in the Class 6A state tournament on Friday and Saturday in Topeka.

In singles, Free State senior Britton Snyder will open his tournament run against the first-round winner of Junction City’s Alex Matthews and Wichita South’s Caiden Neal. Freshman Drew Harrison will square off with Shawnee Mission East’s Gregor Wiedeman in the first round.

Snyder won the singles bracket at regionals, taking down Olathe South’s Josh Lee in the finale. Harrison won his first two matches at regionals and fell to Snyder in the semifinal round.

Free State coach Randy Clark said both of his singles players were planning to land strategic seedings at this year’s state tournament.

“A lot of it is about the draws and playing certain players in certain places,” Clark said. “I’m pretty confident that we’ll get both those guys into day two.”

On the LHS side, freshman Jack Bauch will take on Blue Valley North’s Arjun Reiland. Bauch finished third at regionals, missing the regional championship against Snyder by a single match.

Bauch has found plenty of success as a first-year varsity contender, and LHS coach Chris Marshall has worked closely with him on his path to the state tournament.

“Part of it is getting used to high school tennis,” Marshall said. “You don’t really have a lot of coach interaction at the club level. It takes a while to read cues and know the kid, but I’ve gotten to know (Bauch) a lot better over the course of the season.”

Another LHS player, senior Oliver Rubenstein, will meet Blue Valley West’s Francisco Landeras. The key for Rubenstein, who finished sixth at regionals and is also an avid chess player, will be pacing himself, Marshall said.

“He’s a very intelligent individual,” Marshall said. “He’s always thinking three or four moves ahead.”

In doubles, only one local pairing will be making the trip: Free State juniors Jake Hedges and Felipe Reina-Salas. They will meet the winner of the first-round matchup between Liberal’s Parker Brown and Emmanuel Garcia and Manhattan’s Landon Ott and Jack Spiegel.

Hedges and Reina-Salas weren’t originally assigned to team up with each other, but they have proven themselves a formidable team this season. They won last week’s regional doubles tournament, beating Olathe West’s Adam Geyer and Carter Heble in the championship match.

“They play different levels of talent throughout the year, and no matter higher or low, they’ve played their best,” Clark said. “They’ve set themselves up for a really high finish if they compete as well as they have all year.”

All the action begins at 10 a.m. Friday at Kossover Tennis Center in Topeka.


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