Buffs tennis wins WAC Championship, two division titles





There was no drama on Monday afternoon for the outcome of the 2014 Western Athletic Conference tennis championship.

The Garden City Buffaloes saw to that, winning two of the four divisions — Dozie Ekweariri at No. 2 singles and Joe Basilio and Jose Depaz at No. 2 doulbes — while No. 1 singles player Sebastian Kyaw and the No. 1 doubles team of Dylvan Victor and Esteban Neave captured runner-up honors.

That provided the Buffs with 14 points to runner-up Dodge City's 10 points. Great Bend (7), Liberal (6) and Hays (3) rounded out the scoring.

It was the second team title in four seasons, the last coming in 2011, finishing second in each of the past two years.

"It was a pretty good day," said Ekweariri, the lone senior on the team. "Winning WAC always feels nice. We won in football in the fall and now we win tennis in the spring. It shows how well-rounded our sports programs are at the school. It's a big weight off my shoulders and it feels nice to have this one."

Ekweariri, now sporting an 18-3 season record, had one near slip, that coming against Liberal's Mitchell Irby, who rallied from a 6-3 deficit to force a tiebreaker. Ekweariri prevailed, but it didn't come easily at 10-8.

"I was just inconsistent in that match, and was trying to end it in a hurry," Ekweariri said. "I made a lot of unforced errors. One of my classes came out to watch and that seemed to calm me down."

The No. 2 doubles team of Basilio and Depaz have just been playing the last portion of the season, but have compiled a 15-1 record, and have a good chance for a higher seed at Saturday's Class 6A regional in Hutchinson.

The Buffs' duo only had one tough match, that coming against Great Bend's Justin Kuhlman and Daniel Marshall. The GCHS pair prevailed in that one, 8-5. Otherwise, they breezed to 8-0 wins against Dodge City and Hays, and then 8-3 over Liberal.

"Our first match, it felt like we were still warming up," Basilio said of the 8-5 win over Great Bend. "Winning WAC means something, and it's something we wanted to get."

Depaz said the two had developed a strong chemistry of playing together, each having their own strengths to bring to the team.

"One person who volleys and the other person hits the deeper shots," Depaz said. "I think he (Joe) hits his volleys pretty good. My serving is the best part for me."

Kyaw couldn't overcome his Great Bend nemesis in Grant Harris, who was voted WAC Player of the Year. Kyaw was blitzed 8-1. In his other three matches, Kyaw won in convincing fashion, with triumphs of 8-2 over Dodge City, 8-2 over Liberal and 8-3 over Hays.

The No. 1 singles team of Victor and Neave finished with a 3-1 mark, as did the Hays and Dodge City doubles squad, each beating the other. In the tiebreaker, Dodge City ended up first on points while Garden was second and Hays third.

"I was surprised by some of the results," head coach Rod Robinson said. "Others came out as expected. I think the biggest win of the day came when Dylan and Esteban beat the Dodge City kids 8-7 (8-6) in the tiebreaker. That was huge for us in the team points."

But the Buffs' top doubles team also dropped a tiebreaker to Hays in its final match, falling 8-7 (7-3) to Andrew McGinnis and Austin Berry.

Robinson said he thought the records compiled would work in the Buffs' favor when it comes time for seeding on Saturday morning at the regionals.

Results in Scoreboard, Page B2.

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