Hitting it off
Seniors hope to lead tennis squad to state
Dan Hoschouer and Andy Edwards didn't surprise themselves with a sixth-place finish at last year's Class 4A boys state tennis tournament.
The pair, playing together since they were freshman, knew they had a medal-worthy run in them, but their confidence didn't stop there.
Now launching their senior seasons together, De Soto's top doubles team plans to ride that confidence past last year's high-water marks, all the way to the top of the 4A state bracket.
"We want to do at least as well as we did last year," Edwards said. "We want to get into the top four at state."
Hoschouer and Edwards lead a talented squad of tennis players that hope to build upon last year's banner season.
There may be multiple options for most of the varsity spots, but improving upon last year won't be easy. The 2006 Wildcats were led by Japanese transfer student Tatsuya Manabe. Manabe's season highlight, and likely the team's as well, came in the regional final match where the senior demolished Topeka Hayden's Danny Sheehy 6-1, 6-1 to secure the regional crown.
Finding a replacement didn't exactly leave Cat coach Michael Sullivan sweating, however. The Cats should field two quality singles players. First, Matt Edwards, Andy's sophomore brother, returns after spending most of his freshman season going it alone.
Edwards finished with a 23-6 record a year ago, and should be greatly benefited by an offseason dedicated to improvement coupled with a simple added year of growing up.
"He's matured quite a bit mentally, and that's something that's going to keep happening," Sullivan said.
The top varsity singles spot is far from sewn up, either. Competing with Edwards is Andrew Konetzni. Brother of two-time state qualifier on the girl's side, Hannah Konetzni, tennis is nothing new for the freshman, and that translates into a welcome addition for the team.
"They're close, but Andrew's been playing really well," Sullivan said of the competition between the two underclassmen. "Andrew's very dedicated to tennis. He put in a lot of time over the summer and over the winter, and he has his eyes set. He wants to have a very successful high school career."
Those four, plus De Soto's second varsity doubles team of senior Chris Bender and Matt L'Ecuyer, opened their season Tuesday at Washburn Rural, the first of what Sullivan said will be a long and challenging season.
The Wildcats turn around immediately to return to Topeka, competing Monday in a Highland Park quadrangular, then book it to Paola for an April 5 round robin.
Sullivan said an April 17 dual against Mill Valley stands out -- De Soto beat the Jaguars for the first time last season. The team is also looking forward to its April 28 home tournament, the final warm up before the team ships off to the regional tournament.
"Last year was the first year we beat Mill Valley, so we'd like to keep that up," Sullivan said. "Then, of course, we're looking forward to our own meet."