Morren named WAC Player of Year Award
It seems like many of the Western Athletic Conference tennis championships always comes down to a couple of close matches between the top two contending teams for the overall title.
That was no different on Tuesday at the Garden City High School Tennis Complex where the host Buffaloes had just enough in the closest contests to prevail with a 15-13 point win over rival Dodge City to claim the 2021 WAC Championship.
The Buffs previously had won the 2019 crown before the 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This victory came with three of the four divisions claiming first-place finishes, including No. 1 singles player Logan Morren, who played perhaps his best tennis of the season by going 4-0 in his matches and thus earned the WAC Player of the Year Award. Head Coach Logan Bevis, in his first season in that role, was named the WAC Coach of the Year.
“It was a wonderful day weather wise, pretty much perfect for tennis and a nice change from our normal weather so far this year,” Bevis said. “We squeaked out the win as a team by winning 3 of the 4 head to head matchups against Dodge.”
No. 2 singles player Colin Kleysteuber also posted a 4-0 record while the No. 2 doubles team of John Tran and Joshua Negron finished 4-0 in some of the tightest and most critical matches of the day. No. 1 doubles Charles Stillian and Abraham Hernandez went 3-1 to finish second in their division.
The critical matches mostly came at No. 1 singles and No. 2 doubles, as Morren defeated Dodge City’s Erik Martinez, 8-6, in the deciding match for the Player of the Year award.
“He played well in his early rounds and won convincingly (8-1 wins in all 3 matches),” Bevis said. “He lost to Eric twice at the first tournament of the year in Great Bend, so his win today was a testament to his growth as a player.”
Morren got an early lead on Martinez, leading 7-4 but saw that lead dwindle to 7-6 before closing it out in the final game, Bevis said.
“He (Logan) played Eric in the first match of the year and had a large lead early but was unable to recover when Eric bounced back,” Bevis said of Morren. “So his resiliency in this match was really impressive and it is exciting to see his development as we prepare for regionals.”
Kleysteuber also managed a 4-0 performance, but two of his matches against Hays and Dodge City were 8-5 and 8-4 scores.
“Colin had some tricky matches against Hays and Dodge today but kept his cool and was able to go undefeated on the day,” Bevis said. “I could tell he was a little frustrated early on in a few matches with
some of the shots he was missing, but he did a solid job of simplifying his game and getting back in control of the matches.”
The Buffs’ No. 1 doubles team of Stillian and Hernandez had their share of hotly-contested matches, winning 8-6 and then having to go to a tiebreak against Hays, prevailing in that one, 8-7 (5).
“Three of their four matches were really competitive contests and their two close wins against Liberal and Hays is what allowed us to even have a chance at the team title,” Bevis said. “They have had to play a lot of tough matches at the No. 1 spot this year and it’s been tough for them at times, but this is a solid way to head into regional competition.”
All the before mentioned matches were critical to the Buffs’ team victory, but nobody had more stress during the four rounds of play than did the No. 2 doubles team of Tran and Negron. Of their four wins, one came against Hays’ Edgar Alonso and Logan Daniels, 8-5, while they had to go to a tiebreaker to defeat Dodge City’s Aron Prince and Oscar Arzaga.
“John and Josh were the cardiac kids yet again,” Bevis said. “They did well in their first three matches, especially to rebound and beat a solid Hays team that got up on them 3-0 early.”
Bevis said the final match against Dodge had all the previous completed match players cheering their teammates on.
“All the other matches against Dodge were over for this point, so everyone was watching and knew that the WAC title (outright for us, a share for Dodge) was on the line and they came through yet again,” Bevis said. “It has been awesome to see these two just continue to battle in every match they play. They are still learning a lot of the fundamentals when it comes to tennis strokes and strategy, but today was another great example of their positive attitude and grit paying off.”
With the regular season now complete, the Buffs will have a few days to prepare for the Class 6A regional tournament in Wichita on Saturday at Wichita South High School. The top six qualifiers in singles and doubles will advance to the May 14-15 state tournament in Prairie Village.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Bevis said. “This was an especially difficult season to adjust to considering last year’s cancellation, but they have handled the different challenges the year has presented well and earned the team title today.”
1. Garden City, 15; 2. Dodge City, 13; 3T. Great Bend, Hays, Liberal, 4 each.
Garden City Results
No. 1 Singles: Logan Morren (1st, 4-0): def. Jack Maxwell, Liberal, 8-1; def. Brendyn Schroeder, Great Bend, 8-1; def. Gabe Garcia, Hays, 8-1; def. Erik Martinez, Dodge City, 8-6.
No. 2 Singles: Colin Kleysteuber (1st, 4-0): def. Ivan Armendariz, Liberal, 8-2; def. Jordan Manning, Great Bend, 8-1; def. Colin Clark, Hays, 8-5; def. Conner Stukenholtz, Dodge City, 8-4.
No. 1 Doubles: Charles Stillian/Abraham Hernandez (2nd, 3-1): def. Hudson Brown/Cristobal Sanchez, Liberal, 8-6; def. Malaki Wasson/Shiv Tusal, Great Bend, 8-0; def. Henry Fitzhum/Ryan Shuckman, Hays, 8-7 (5); lost to Bryce Moore/Chris Valez, Dodge City, 8-6.
No. 2 Doubles: John Tran/Joshua Negron (1st, 4-0): def. Brandon Nguyen/Daniel Nguyen, Liberal, 8-2; def. Carlos Jacobo/Caden Bieker, Great Bend, 8-3; def. Edgar Alonso/Logan Daniels, Hays, 8-5; def. Aron Ponce/Oscar Arzaga, Dodge City, 8-7 (5).
Player of the Year: Logan Morren, Garden City
Coach of the Year: Logan Bevis, Garden City