Fort Scott High School's tennis team opened the varsity portion of its schedule with a split in a four-team tournament here Tuesday.
Head coach Lynn Barr rotated several players between the singles and doubles slots. The Tigers defeated Chanute, 3 matches to 1, and Iola, 3-0. Fort Scott lost to defending Southeast Kansas League champion Independence, 4-0, and to Pittsburg, 3-1.
"For the first match of the season, I thought we did some good things," Barr said. "We will have to do a better job of closing out matches we have the opportunity to win as the season progresses."
Fort Scott was third in the team standings with 7 points. Independence finished on top with 14 points followed by Pittsburg with 12. Chanute was fourth with 5 points while Iola did not score.
The Tigers have 10 players on the roster with one or two more considering coming out. Barr doesn't mind having numbers that some other programs might consider low.
"The players get more reps and more practice time," Barr said. "The kids are competitive and want to improve."
Barr used the same lineup against Chanute and Independence. Senior Bryce Daly played No. 1 singles. Daly played mostly doubles last year. He was 12-4 with graduated Kyle Kelly and 1-2 with Davis Drake.
Daly defeated Chanute's Ian Cheshier, 8-5, and Iola's Jordan Strickler, 8-4.
Hayden Barr, a junior and Barr's son, played No. 2 singles against Chanute and Iola. He played exclusively on the junior varsity last season. On Thursday, Barr was defeated by Chanute's Kevan Morgan, 8-3, and Brad Graddy of Pittsburg, 8-4, an extra player who filled a vacant Iola slot.
Junior Davis Drake and sophomore Gage Addington played No. 1 doubles against Chanute and Iola. Drake played with three partners last year in 11 doubles matches, winning five, and was 1-1 in singles. Addington played on the JV.
Against Chanute, Drake and Addington took an 8-7 (7-1) win over Tyler Dillow and Jefferson Holmes. They defeated Iola's Brad Bazo and Stephen McDonald, 8-1.
Seniors Matt Hull and Michael Flater played the No. 2 doubles position against Chanute and Iola. Hull was 3-6 in doubles and 0-1 in singles last season. Flater played exclusively on JV.
Hill and Flater defeated Chanute's Ryan Madden and Cornell Littleton, 8-5, and Iola's Hayden Wolf and Drew Smith, 8-1.
Drake moved to singles in the final two duals. He lost to Indy's Ty Schabel, 8-1, and defeated Pittsburg's Hank Cloninger, 8-7 (7-5). Addington went to No. 2 singles and fell to Indy's Skye Conley, 8-7 (7-1), and Pittsburg's Brandon Smith, 8-0.
Hull and Daly paired up for No. 1 doubles. They lost to Indy's Patrick Hardy/Josh Hilger, 8-1, and Pittsburg's Sean Perkins/Jake Cloninger, 8-5, after holding a 5-1 lead. Barr and Flater went to No. 2 doubles and lost 8-1 to Independence's Drake King/Brennan Gordon and Pittsburg's Kaleb Konek/Jake Creech.
"Bryce opened with a good win over a good Chanute player and Davis and Gage had a nice win against a pretty good Chanute doubles team," Barr noted as he assessed the day's outcomes. "Bryce and Davis were the only players with much varsity experience who played today and it showed. Matt played a little varsity last season and I think he will be fine once he adjusts to that level of competition on a full-time basis. Gage played really well in his first ever varsity competition teaming with Davis to pick up a pair of wins in No. 1 doubles, and had a close match against Indy in No. 2 singles."
The other players on the roster include senior Kyle Altic, juniors Austin Sather and Jesse Guerrero, and freshman Jon Carpenter.
Altic has played varsity the previous three years and qualified for the State Tournament in doubles last year with graduated Colton Grillott. He injured his knee in the semifinal of the Class 4A State Basketball Tournament Friday night but both he and Barr hold out hope that he can play toward the end of the season.
"He wants to try to come back before the season's over and we're leaving that door open," Barr said. "Depending on his rehab, we'll try to get him back in."
Sather has some varsity experience, going 8-5 as a singles player and 2-2 in doubles with a pair of different partners last season. Guerrero and Carpenter and new to the team.
Some of the other players have not had enough days of practice, so they will not be able to play for a week or so. Due to this, Fort Scott has pulled out of the Pittsburg junior varsity tournament scheduled for today.
The Tigers saw two of the three teams that Barr expects to be at the top of the league this season. Parsons is also a part of that group.
"Parsons is going to be pretty solid and I think Pittsburg will be pretty strong this year," Barr said. "After that, it's going to be a dogfight like most years."
The Tigers next scheduled outing is a dual at Nevada on March 26. Both the varsity and JV will attend.