El Dorado junior Hayden Greene places seventh at 4A tennis state tennis tournament

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
El Dorado Junior Hayden Greene returns a serve in a match on Saturday, May 15 at the Kossover Tennis Center in Topeka, Kansas. Greene finished seventh in singles.

TOPEKA, Kansas—It was all about having fun for El Dorado junior Hayden Greene in the Class 4A state tennis tournament. 

The junior had tons of fun finishing seventh in the boys’ singles on Saturday at Kossover Tennis Center in Topeka.

“This weekend was a lot of fun,” Greene said. “I didn’t really know that the one guy was ranked first until after the match that was really cool.”

Greene referring when he beat Andrew Ladwig, the tournament’s No. 1 seed. It took three sets but Greene sent the top seed to the consolation bracket and the junior into the quarterfinals for the first time in his career.

That’s all it has been this season. While many may focus on the Buhler’s and the McPherson’s, Greene has held his own and he showed that immediately, knocking off Lawson Collins of Chanute, to set Greene up with the tournament’s top seed, Ladwig of Bishop Miege. 

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Greene wasn’t fazed by the big name of Miege or Ladwig. Even after Greene dropped the second set 6-0, he was focused and came back to beat him in a “super tiebreaker,” 10-7, advancing Greene to his career’s first quarterfinals match.

He once again battled tough, taking the opening set from McPherson’s Jaden Fox. An unfortunate 7-5 third set loss pushed him into the consolation bracket on Saturday.

While Greene was the only player left on Saturday, he recognized the level of tennis he was at and what was at stake.

“We always knew he could win these matches,” El Dorado coach Kent Kunkel said. “He showed he’s the real deal by beating the No. 1 seed and getting the quarterfinals.”

Hayden Greene poses with his medal in front of the KSHSAA sign at the Tossover Tennis Center in Topeka, Kansas on Saturday, May 15

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After rain had delayed play by almost three hours and matches finally got underway and Greene went to work, dispatching of Labette County’s Joel Mathes 9-2 in a redemption match as Mathes handed fellow Wildcat Kyler McKabban his first loss on Friday. An unfortunate rematch with Wellington’s Jax Cornejo sent Greene into the seventh place match. While the result was closer than the first time around, Cornejo beat Greene, 9-5. 

Greene, who had lost to Drake Lowe twice in the last two weeks, once at regionals and once at league, finally found the better of the Winfield singles’ player. Greene won 9-2. 

“I thought Hayden played his best tennis of the season this weekend,” Kunkel said. “To come through this tournament the way he did is really impressive.

“I’m already excited about next season.”

Greene is only a junior and after missing out on state as a freshman and not getting to play last year, the hunger for getting that championship is there. He’s going to play in the summer, which can provide extra practice over his counter parts in 4A. 

“I want to win so bad,” Greene said. “I’m going to work really hard over the summer and come into next season ready.”

When what’s on the goal for next year after finishing seventh as a junior? Only one word came out of Greene’s mouth

“First.”

El Dorado's Head Coach Kent Kunkel (left) and assistant Mike Spencer (right) pose with Hayden Greene (center) on Saturday, May 15.

Charles Chaney has been the Sports Editor for the Butler County Times-Gazette since Aug. 2019. You can reach him at cchaney@butlercountytimesgazette.com or on Twitter at @ChuckChaneyBCTG.