GODDARD, Kan.—For more than the past decade, Goddard has been a regional tennis wrecking ball. Since 2000, the Lions have finished no worse than second as a team. And this season Goddard adds yet another regional championship trophy and another notch in the consecutive-year streak.
“It’s not anything that we talk about during the season,” said Goddard head coach Dan Buchanan. “It’s something that I probably know that players don’t even understand. But there is a whole string of trophies up there. Coach Markham is the reason those got started and he is still the reason that this program is as solid as it is, and we’re just trying to maintain. We’re very proud to see the guys do this well.”
Goddard took home the trophy at its own regional with 19 team points, 8 better than Winfield and Bishop Carroll who both scored 11 team points in the tournament. Because Winfield qualified more players to state than Carroll, the Vikings got the tiebreaker over the Golden Eagles.
In the singles bracket, it was somewhat of a surprise charge from Goddard freshman Timio Lopez who will go to the state tournament as a regional champion, winning as a No. 3 seed over top-seed Jared Ohm 6-2, 6-1.
“It feels pretty exhilarating,” said Lopez. “It’s also pretty tiring. It’s just keeping my mental game, mental toughness. I mean, I’m pretty tired, but you can’t give up, can’t let them off the hook.”
Lopez was able to keep himself in long rallies with Ohm to wait for his opportunities to strike. In the blistering sun, long drawn out points put conditioning and mental focus at a premium. But after the grueling match, it is the Goddard freshman going to state as a regional champion.
While having a No. 3 seed take out the top-seed and City League champion might seem as a surprise to some, for Goddard’s coach, it was nothing.
“I know how much (Lopez) expects out of himself,” said Buchanan. “We knew that he is capable, but it is tough. I see him in practice every day and I know how much he works at the game. So to see him walk out here today and win this, I’m not shocked. But also we know that there are some very quality players here that he beat.”
On the doubles side, Goddard’s Britt Hansen and Ryan Wolfe picked up a little revenge, beating John Rohr and Macen Vargas from Arkansas City 6-1, 6-2. Rohr and Vargas had beaten Hansen and Wolfe in the league championship match.
But at regionals, Hansen and Wolfe controlled the net, waiting for opportunities to slam the ball, in many cases bouncing the overhands both off, and out of the court.
“This team we played, we played them at league,” said Wolfe. “We weren’t playing up to par and I’m just glad today that we came out with the win.”
Hansen and Wolfe are making it to the state tournament for the first time together as a team. The two were paired due to an injury and have found the chemistry in a hurry to win the regional tournament.
“That’s pretty good, what they’ve accomplished,” said Buchanan. “Most doubles teams, to get where they’re at, they play together a lot in the off season, or they’ve played for two or three years. Most of these teams that we will see next week, they have played together for a long time. And so that is a great, great accomplishment to see these guys do it since April.”
Along with Lopez and Ohm in the singles tournament, four others qualified to the state tournament. Cory Otis from Eisenhower took third after beating Avery Osen from Winfield 6-2, 6-3. Winfield’s Chad Olney took fifth beating Derek Drew from Wichita West 6-3, 2-6, 7-5. By getting into the fifth-place match, Drew becomes the first West player to qualify for state in 16 years.
In the doubles bracket, Kyle Gerken and Tanner Pierret from Goddard took third with a 6-1, 7-6 (7-2) win over Carroll’s Matt Zemanick Jr. and Logan Bevis. Sam Camp and Alex Hanna from Winfield took fifth with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Rhett Posey and Conner Seitz from Arkansas City.