Wildcats qualify four for 4A state tennis tournament
EL DORADO, Kansas—It was a solid afternoon for the El Dorado Wildcats as they hosted the Class 4A Regional on their still new set of tennis courts on Saturday as they qualified both singles players a doubles pair for next week's Class 4A state tournament.
The Wildcats did something similar two years ago when they went to state, except it was two doubles teams and a singles player that made it.
All of the qualifying helped El Dorado finish tied for second in the regional. However, due to tiebreakers, the Wildcats finished third behind Winfield for second and Wellington for first.
"I'm proud of them because I haven't scored a point yet this season," El Dorado tennis coach Kent Kunkel said. "They've done all the scoring and hard work. I'm happy they're going to state."
Hayden Greene beat teammate Kyler McKibban (6-2, 6-0) in the second round of singles qualifying to punch his ticket to state.
"It almost felt like practice playing [Kyler]," Greene said. "We just went out and hit and played really good."
The qualification for Greene is his first after almost qualifying his freshman year. That was stopped by former teammate Ashton King.
"I'm pretty pumped," Greene said. "I work all summer and played pretty hard today."
Greene finished fourth after falling to Iola's Riccardo Barbarossa in the third place match.
Despite losing to Greene, El Dorado's McKibban found his way through the consolation bracket and into the Class 4A state tournament. He beat Lane Dobbs to get into the fifth place match, where he beat Wellington's Hunter Worley for fifth place.
"It's going to be fun and stressful," McKibban said. "I cannot complain; going to state and getting to graduate high school. I can't complain."
McKibban didn't plan on playing last season and was going to pick up golf, but a call from coach Kunkel brought him back to the racquet.
The Wildcats also saw juniors John Ferley and Logan Foulkes punch their state ticket with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Winfield. They would fall to Circle's Noah Allison and Drew Middleton in the regional semifinals.
Wellington would get the best of the duo in the third place match, giving the Wildcats two fourth place finishes and a fifth place finish.
The Wildcats will now turn their attention to Topeka, where the Class 4A state tournament is on Friday and Saturday. Pick up a win on Friday, you improve your chances to play onto Saturday. For El Dorado, they want to succeed but after last season, they just want to have fun.
"There shouldn't be any pressure on anyone since no one is playing on Sunday," Kunkel said. "So, just enjoy the right and let it fly."
For El Dorado it's a continued growth that saw no qualifications in 2017 and 2018. While there were plenty to be excited for last season when COVID ripped it away, the Wildcats are setting up something special as all but one player, McKibban, is a junior and will return next season.
"It just shows we're going in a good direction and making improvements," McKibban said.
"Hopefully it continues."
4A El Dorado Regional
Wellington 21, Winfield 11, El Dorado 11, Circle 8, Iola 6, Augusta 0.
1. Cornejo, Wellington, def. Lowe, Winfield, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3; 3. Barbarossa, Iola, def. Greene, El Dorado, 6-7 (7-2), 6-4, 6-3; 5. McKibban, El Dorado, def. Worley, Wellington, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2).
1. Adams-Rademacher, Wellington def. Allison-Middleton, Circle 6-4, 1-6, 6-2; 3. Norris-Wright, Wellington def. Farley-Foukes, El Dorado, 6-3, 6-3; 5. Everett-Norton, Winfield def. Morris-Davis, Winfield, 6-0, 6-1.