Singles players keep tennis squad flying high
Tatsuya Manabe broke a string in his racket Tuesday. Already using his primary backup, he was forced to go with a different racket he hadn't used nearly as much.
Only one day prior De Soto had slugged out a 4-3 dual win over Baldwin, but the Cats' top doubles team of Andy Edwards and Dan Hoschouer lost for the second time in as many events.
Could De Soto's golden start to the 2006 season finally be over? Were the Cats finally coming back to Earth?
Manabe and singles teammate Matt Edwards both went 4-0 in a Bonner Springs round robin Tuesday and the De Soto tennis team remained unbeaten.
The last week hasn't been without its scares, however.
De Soto nearly tripped up Monday as it hosted Baldwin. Hoschouer and Andy Edwards fell 9-7 to Baldwin's top doubles team of Josh Beaulieu and Dustin Schiller.
Both doubles players then fell in the singles matches, each dropping an 8-6 decision.
But strong play from singles players Manabe and Matt Edwards and a singles win by Nathan Cardiff over Casey Nelson gave De Soto the dual victory.
"Some of the guys were just slow. I don't know if it was prom weekend or what, they just looked a step slow," Sullivan said. "We pulled it out without playing our best, so that's a good thing."
Competing in the singles half of the Bonner Springs tournament -- the doubles teams play Thursday -- Manabe and Matt Edwards kept the momentum going, even if it was a bit scary at times.
Manabe had few problems, backup racket or not. He cruised through his matches.
"He breezed through the competition," Sullivan said. "He had one that was 8-3, but it was mostly 8-0."
Edwards was a slightly different story. He won four times to emerge as the No. 2 singles champ, but it took several big stands to achieve that record.
After winning a close first match, Edwards was in trouble in the second. He trailed Bonner Springs' Matt Redlin by a game, then trailed by two points after coming from behind to force a tiebreak.
Still, Edwards found a way to win. Smashing an ace and two winners, he won the final four points of the match.
"What really impressed me about that match is (Redlin) was a really solid hitter," Sullivan said. "A lot of times when kids get down in the tiebreak, they get real tentative and start pushing the ball. In three of (Matt's) last four points he had two winners and an ace, so it wasn't like he was waiting for the other guy to make a mistake. It showed me he wasn't timid. They were some nice shots.
"Then he turned around and did it again."
Again trailing, this time by three games, Edwards won three straight to force another tiebreak, where he took control and advanced to face the champion from the other pool.
"In the last match, he was just on. He handled the guy," Sullivan said. "As a freshman coming back from that, coming back against older guys, he showed me some guts by doing that."
As for Hoschouer and Andy Edwards, they get their chance at Bonner Springs Thursday, and there is a carrot waiting at the end of the tournament. If the De Soto pair wins its pool and advances, it could face the Baldwin doubles team again.
"I think they're going to be fine," Sullivan said of his top doubles team. "They've just had a couple bad days. I'm hoping the losses eventually help them.
"They are considered one of the better teams in the area, so maybe it will help them focus a little bit, but it was just a few bad days, plain and simple."