Buffs find McPherson Invite tough

4/20/2014

By BRETT MARSHALL

By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

Not even the Class 6A regional tournament would be as difficult a tournament as Saturday's McPherson Invitational in which the Garden City Buffaloes' boys tennis team competed.

That's because when it comes to Class 6A, the Buffs wouldn't face the state's top-ranked teams until the state tournament.

In Saturday's McPherson event, however, the Buffs saw Salina Central, ranked No. 1 in Class 5A, host McPherson, ranked No. 2 in Class 4A, and Wichita Collegiate, the state's top-ranked Class 3-2-1A team. Throw in perennial 5A power Arkansas City and coach Rod Robinson knew his Buffs would have their hands full.

And it certainly proved to be just that.

"Yeah, it was as tough as we thought it would be," Robinson said. "There were some really good players, obviously, and the singles draws were tough. There were plenty of good doubles teams, too."

The Buffs struggled, placing seventh in the eight-team field with 18 points, finishing just ahead of Maize's 17 points. McPherson garnered the top spot with 48 points, Collegiate took second with 46 points and Salina Central placed third with 42 points. Teams following included Arkansas City (35), with Hutchinson and Independence tied with 26 each.

The highest finisher for the Buffs came from No. 1 singles player Sebastian Kyaw, who placed eighth despite winning just one of four matches. No. 2 singles player Dozie Ekweariri lost his opening match and then rolled past three opponents to place ninth as No. 1 and 2 players were bracketed together in the 16-player field.

In doubles action, No. 1 Dylan Victor and Joe Basilio were 14th with one win in four matches while No. 2 Austin Greathouse and Seth Dinkel placed 15th, also winning just one of their four matches.

The pair of doubles teams had to meet each other in the consolation bracket, with the team of Victor and Basilio defeating their teammates, 8-4.

"It's no fun to play your own teammates at a tournament," Robinson said. "It got pretty competitive. Our JV guys wanted to get a win, but they gave them a good battle."

Greathouse and Dinkel's lone win came against Dui Van and Matthew Bahaj of Wichita Collegiate, 8-5.

Kyaw opened the tournament with an 8-6 win over Zach Stacy of Independence before dropping his next three matches. Ekweariri lost his opening match to Travis Oswald of Collegiate, the eventual champion, 8-0. He then dropped Alex Espino of Arkansas City (8-2), Harris Sett of Salina Central (8-3) and Kento Aizawa of McPherson (8-5).

"Dozie didn't have a singles record that could have provided him a better draw, so unfortunately he got the really good kid from Collegiate," Robinson said. "After that, he played really well and didn't have too many close matches."

The McPherson tourney brought an end to a hectic week's schedule. Within five days, the Buffs had meets at Salina, Hutchinson and McPherson. But to make the schedule worse, the team traveled to Hutch on Thursday only to have the tourney called off by weather. They drove back to Garden City Thursday night, and then returned to Hutch on Friday before driving up to the Saturday McPherson event.

"The boys are ready for a break," Robinson said.

Next up for the Buffs will be their own Invitational on Saturday, with matches getting under way at 9 a.m. at the GCHS Tennis Complex. Teams confirmed that will compete are Pratt, Dodge City, Great Bend, Liberal and Hays. Robinson indicated there may be several other teams that will confirm their participation this week.

Results in Scoreboard, Page B2.

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