Tennis team grabs medals at state tournament
The state tennis tournament began and ended in exactly the same way for Dan Hoschouer and Andy Edwards -- Andrew Kahley and Isaac Chambers from Smokey Valley celebrated at the De Soto pair's expense.
It was what happened in between that made the experience special, however.
Hoschouer and Edwards (29-8) finished sixth in last weekend's 2006 state tennis tournament in Pratt. Losing only their first match on the first day and their final match on the second day, the pair used three consecutive wins through the middle of the tournament to earn their first state medals and propel the De Soto boys team to a seventh-place finish overall.
"It had been 10 years since we had two qualifiers, so it was a pretty good finish for us," coach Michael Sullivan said. "Dan and Andy should be proud of how they played."
Maybe it was first-time-at-state jitters. Maybe it was just a bad day or just a bad start. Probably it was that the team from Smokey Valley was just plain good. Anyway, the top De Soto pair got off to a slow start and fell 6-1, 6-2 in their tournament-opening match.
The pair rebounded, however, to beat a pair from Ulysses 9-1, then a pair from Fort Scott, 9-5, before notching one that really counted.
Hoschouer and Edwards beat Josh Beaulieu and Dustin Schiller of Baldwin for the first time all season, avenging three losses to the pair. Two of the losses saw Hoschouer and Edwards give up leads and the third was a close battle in the league tournament.
The De Soto pair won at state, however, taking the match 9-7.
"If you're going to go 1-3 against that team, you're going to want to get that one at state," Sullivan said. "They played really well and they should be proud of how they played."
The pair then fell again to the Smokey Valley doubles team, losing in a closer match, 9-5.
"They played them much closer the second round," Sullivan said. "I'd put money down that the Smokey Valley team was the second best team because they lost to the champions and played closer than anyone else did."
Tatsuya Manabe meanwhile ended his De Soto tennis career on a disappointing and unfortunate note. After playing what Sullivan termed flawless tennis in the regional final -- a match Manabe took 6-1, 6-1 from Topeka Hayden's Danny Sheehy -- the Japanese exchange student fell ill in the hot temperatures in Pratt.
Sullivan said playing through a mild spring hurt Manabe Friday when he was forced to compete as the temperature hit 100 degrees on the courts.
A long and tiresome first match didn't help either. Manabe beat Phillip Zimmerman from Circle 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5), but was off his game in a 6-1, 6-2 loss to Iola's Eric Sparks.
He was so sick by the third match of the day Sullivan pulled him from competition and sent him back to the hotel to rest up for Saturday.
Things opened a little better as Manabe got past Josh Cech of Goodland 9-4, but he lost his final match of the season to Eduardo Aguilar of Pratt to finish 10th, good for a medal, but not what he'd had in mind after the regionals.
"The conditions were really hot and his first match just took forever, and that really kind of knocked him out," Sullivan said. "He had heat cramps, so it wasn't as severe as heat stroke, but no one's played in the heat. It hit some other people, but he got hit the worst."