State qualifiers, one-year wonder highlight DHS tennis team’s season
De Soto sophomore Tatsuya Manabe lost just five matches all spring, won the regional singles title and placed at the state tournament.
He has absolutely no chance of repeating that feat next year.
No need to let VH1 know about this one-hit wonder, though. One-and-done was the plan for the Japanese exchange student all along, and while De Soto tennis coach Michael Sullivan said Manabe's all-too brief stay in De Soto is not the kind of thing you can build a program around, it did make for one heck of a 2006 campaign.
Manabe led the way as the De Soto boys tennis team enjoyed it's most successful season in 10 years as three athletes qualified for the state tournament.
"He was fun to have around," Sullivan said. "He's a very good player. He brought us legitimate No. 1 player. Having him here one year you can't build a program around him, but he can help set the future up."
Selected the team's most valuable player, Manabe likely provided the team's season highlight with a dazzling 6-1, 6-1 regional finals win over Topeka Hayden's Danny Sheehy.
The state tournament didn't go nearly as well. Manabe, who finished the season 33-5, fell ill on the first day. He did still manage to pick up enough wins to place 10th.
Like Sullivan said -- it was fun, but not something to build a program around. The performances of the rest of the team make for a different story, however.
While De Soto will lose one of the state's best in Manabe, doubles teammates Andy Edwards and Dan Hoschouer broke out in 2006 and also made the trip to state.
The long-time duo finished the season with a 29-8 record and fought out a third-place finish at regionals, then went on to place sixth at the state tournament in Pratt.
That was all exciting, Sullivan said, but even nicer is the thought of Edwards and Hoschouer returning in 2007.
"They made a big step last year, then this year to qualify and place sixth -- it really was a breakout year," Sullivan said. "Now that they have a taste for state, they're going to continue to work harder to take that next step to get into the top three."
Matt Edwards, Andy's brother, also set himself up for a breakthrough season in 2007. The team's No. 2 singles player took the team's Rookie of the Year honors with a 23-6 campaign.
Facing one of the top players in the state in Manabe every day has its advantages, but now the No. 1 singles hole lies wide open. The already-seasoned sophomore-to-be could jump right in.
"Matt got to face one of the best guys in 4A every day," Sullivan said. "The really helped him out, to play someone as good as Tatsuya. It will really help him out for the rest of his career."
The Edwards brothers and Hoschouer will provide De Soto a stable of returning talent, but the Cats will lose a strong group of seniors as well. Nathan Cardiff was 4-0 in singles matches and was 16-5 playing with doubles partner Dave Worley.
Worley, along with his brother, John, also graduated. Dave was also 4-0 in singles and finished 17-7 as a member of a doubles team, one win and two losses coming while paired with John.