The 4A Boys State Tennis Tournament finals had a particular theme as Topeka Hayden, McPherson and Independence all vied for a state championship.
In the end Topeka Hayden’s first and second place finishes in the singles bracket helped them to a finishing total of 39 points, and pushed them past second place finisher McPherson, who finished with 34 points.
This was Hayden’s first state title since their back-to-back championships in 2004 and 2005. Hayden has three boys tennis championships and James Sandstrom, head coach of Topeka Hayden, has led the Wildcats to all three of them.
“It’s not easy to win a state tennis championship, and [the nine years in between titles] makes you appreciate it a little bit more,” Sandstrom said.
Independence placed third with 29 points, and Andover Central was a close fourth with 27 points. Buhler rounded out the top five with 20 points.
The singles final featured two brothers from Topeka Hayden dueling for the state championship and on the very next court two sets of brothers, from McPherson and Independence, were facing off for the doubles championship.
Tommy Hunter played his older brother, Blake, for the 4A state title. Tommy defeated Sam Camp, from Winfield, 6-0, 6-0, to take his place in the finals while big brother Blake eliminated Carter Tappan, from Wichita Trinity, 6-0, 6-2.
Coming into the finals Senior Blake Hunter had only lost four matches all season, and won 24. However all four loses came at the hands of his sophomore brother Tommy.
“This one was a little different it was our last time [playing in high school], and a little more emotional,” Blake said. “I’m not really an emotional person, but with it being my last high school match, and playing [Tommy] it was emotional.”
Tommy defeated Blake in the first set 6-2, using his precision shots to diffuse the power in Blake’s furious strokes. The second set, while competitive, ended with the same result; a 7-5 win for Tommy, his second straight 4A championship.
“It didn’t feel like any ordinary win,” Tommy said. “I kind of had this feeling after a couple matches we played this year. But nothing like this, taking a state championship away from him because he’s gotten me to where I’m at and he’s taught me everything I know.”
Doubles, comparatively, was a light hearted affair. This time was family was on the same team.
Peter and Ryan Horton took out Andover Central’s Cameron Davis and Jacob Thompson, 6-4, 6-2, to face Sam Hilger and Josh Hilger in the doubles finals. The Hilgers ousted the Hortons’ teammates Dylan Stos and Luke Williams, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The Hilgers were unable to muster up much resistance against the Hortons, as Peter and Ryan only relented one game, 6-1, 6-0, to Sam and Josh.
This was Peter and Ryan’s second seasonally consecutive sports title. The brothers also won the 4A Division I state championship in basketball.