Abilene’s Luke Kohler and Cody Schiffner are state runners-up.
PRATT – The Abilene Cowboy doubles team beat the Friday rain at the Class 4A State Tennis Tournament in Pratt to move the semifinals but had to wait until mid morning Saturday to see whom their opponent would be. That opponent would be someone very familiar to them as they had played them just last week
Rain shut down the late Friday rounds at Pratt. With a cloudy, overcast and cool Saturday morning it took awhile for the courts to dry before play could resume.
Abilene’s Cody Schiffner and Luke Kohler had mastered their way to advance to the state semifinals after winning their two matches on Friday. After receiving an opening round bye due to the second place finish at the Buhler Regional, the Cowboy duo met Justin and Colton Broxterman of Topeka Hayden. They defeated the Topeka team 6-2, 6-2 to advance to the quarterfinals.
In the quarters, Schiffner/Kohler faced the Winfield regional champions Tayton Thompson-Donham and Zac Butler. The Cowboys defeated the pair of seniors from Winfield 6-1, 6-1 to move on to the semifinals.
“Friday, I thought we played pretty consistent,” Abilene head coach Mike Jantz said. “They were in control of both matches most of the time. They weren’t perfect buy they played pretty good tennis. Really proud of them both.”
Saturday’s quarterfinals match between a team from Independence and a pair of young Bishop Miege players was a back and forth match that went to three sets to determine the winner. Bishop Miege’s Patrick Cashman and Andrew Ladwig won 6-2, 2-6, 7-5.
That set up the opening match of the day for the Cowboys against the Miege team. The Abilene duo of Schiffner/Kolhler played really tight in the first set to win 7-6(3) before powering back for a 6-0 decisive win in the second set. This win earned the Cowboys a spot in the state championship match.
Their opponent, they were familiar with. It was just a little over a week ago that the Cowboys met up with the Buhler Crusaders in the championship match of the Buhler regional.
The Engelken brothers, Cameron and Carson both juniors at Buhler High School, defeated Schiffner/Kohler 6-1, 6-0 to win the regional tournament. Saturday at Pratt the results were the same but the Cowboys had played better and challenged the Buhler pair 6-3, 6-3.
“We competed a lot better today than we did at regional’s against a really good team,” Jantz said. “Buhler plays great doubles. They were on against us again today for a while but in the second set I thought our kids got into it and had a chance to tie it. Didn’t get that point done but can’t complain at all with their performance. A great year capped with a really good state tournament play getting to the championship and being runners-up.
“Today, they played tight in the first set against Miege but found a way to win and then relaxed a little bit to play better in the second set,” Jantz said. “Cody and Luke have come a long way from where they were as freshmen and a long way from where they were last year as juniors when they went to the state tournament as participants. You can tell that they have really grown in their game, in their sportsmanship and everything. They are just better kids out on the court and I am just really proud of them.”
With the second place finish the Cowboys became the most successful Cowboy doubles team since Derek Berns and Kyle Regier won the state title in 2002 when Jantz was an assistant coach for Garry Stredney.
“It was a lot of fun this year,” Kohler said of his season. “Everyone got better as a team and Cody and I just build each up mentally and keep each other going.”
“The season started out a little rough for me,” Schiffner said. “But when Luke came back to doubles it really got better. Buhler is really good. They know their stuff. They know their game. They did a really nice job.”
Parson’s doubles team of Trey Martinez and Isaac Stringer defeated the Miege team for third place.
In singles, Hayden’s Sean Sandstrom defeated Circle’s Carson Mosier 6-2, 6-1 for the 2019 championship.
Abilene’s Jaylen West qualified in his first year of high school competition with a sixth place finish at the Buhler Regional. He drew Hunter Bryant of Wellington in the opening round for 0-6, 3-6 defeat. He then battled Augusta’s Braden Jergensen 6-9 to end his season.
The Cowboy doubles team of Tim Barbieri and Mark Cooper made their first state tournament appearance with a battle against Augusta’s Altenhofen/Parker but lost 7-6(9), 6-2. Then they fell to Independence’s Mah/Stoner 9-6 to end their high school tennis careers.
Topeka Hayden won the team title with 39 points over second place Wichita Trinity Academy at 35. Buhler was third with 30 points.
Contact Ron Preston at firstname.lastname@example.org.