Kansas high school boys tennis: Wichita, Arkansas City brothers win state titles

In the Drumright family, baseball matters most.

Carter Drumright is a star junior pitcher and shortstop on the Collegiate baseball team, while his younger brother, Maddox, a freshman, is a starting catcher. Their father, Greg, and their uncle, Mike, were both pitchers for Wichita State baseball during the 1990s.

But in their spare time from practicing and playing baseball for Collegiate in the spring, the Drumright brothers have also enjoyed playing for the school’s tennis team together.

In a testament to their chemistry and natural ability, the Drumright brothers won the doubles championship at the Class 3-1A boys tennis state tournament at Harmon Park Tennis Complex in Prairie Village on Saturday.

“It’s pretty mentally exhausting and tiring trying to stay up with school and then splitting time between baseball and tennis, but we love it,” Carter Drumright said. “Playing tennis with my brother is so much fun. This was definitely one of the best experiences I’ve had playing sports. There’s nothing quite like winning state with your brother.”

Collegiate junior Carter Drumright (left) and freshman Maddox Drumright (right) won the Class 3-1A doubles state championship. The brothers split time between baseball and tennis in the spring.
Collegiate junior Carter Drumright (left) and freshman Maddox Drumright (right) won the Class 3-1A doubles state championship. The brothers split time between baseball and tennis in the spring.

Because the brothers are primarily baseball players, they spent the majority of their practice time this spring helping the Collegiate baseball team to a 14-5 record. Tennis coach Simon Norman was more than happy to work with baseball coach Joe Gehrer to coordinate practice schedules for the brothers, who still managed to play in 25 tennis matches together this season.

After losing twice in the second tournament of the season, the Drumright brothers won 22 straight matches to close out the season, including a dominant run at the state tournament where the duo dropped a total of just four games in four matches.

“They are such good athletes, it really is unbelievable,” Norman said. “They really don’t play a whole lot of tennis because they’re mainly baseball players. But they really enjoy each other and they’re so good together. They probably played 30 matches and I never once heard an angry word or a cross word between them. They were so supportive of each other and so complimentary. They just killed everybody.”

On Thursday, the Drumright brothers played in Collegiate’s 9-2 home victory over Conway Springs in the opening round of regional play. After the game, they drove to the Kansas City area in preparation to play state tennis on Friday and Saturday.

Maddox, the freshman, said he was unsure about playing tennis in high school, but was convinced when Norman gave the nod for the brothers to exclusively play with one another.

“It’s just awesome playing with (Carter) because we always know where the other one is going to be and what balls we can get to,” Maddox Drumright said. “We were both pretty fired up at state. We never got down on ourselves and we always knew we were in good position. Winning made it so much fun.”

With all four entries finishing as medalists, Collegiate (44 points) easily topped Central Plains (32) and Smoky Valley (22) for its 27th team state championship in program history and sixth in the last eight state tournaments.

Sophomore Charlie Gentile (third) and senior Omar Al-Tabbal (fifth) both placed in singles, while Collegiate’s other doubles team of seniors Sky Fujinuma and Rahul Madhavan placed ninth.

Other Wichita-area medalists in singles included Smoky Valley senior Keaton Leiker (sixth), Hesston senior Will Whiter (eighth), Sterling freshman Jace Darnauer (ninth) and Classical junior Noah Doom (10th). Other area medalists in doubles included Classical senior Charlie Graham and junior Isaac Yourdon (second), Hesston junior Asher Deutschendorf and sophomore Braiden Liechty (third), Smoky Valley juniors Gabriel and Ezekiel Baker (sixth), Conway Springs juniors Isaac Winter and Layne Whitney (10th) and Smoky Valley seniors Per Nelson and Nathan Nyquist (11th).

Arkansas City brothers Oakley and Dawson O’Donnell teamed up to win the Class 5A doubles state championship.
Arkansas City brothers Oakley and Dawson O’Donnell teamed up to win the Class 5A doubles state championship.

Class 5A boys tennis: Arkansas City sibling doubles team wins state title

Playing in their final year of high school together, the Arkansas City doubles duo of Oakley and Dawson O’Donnell made it count.

It was a true family affair at Andover District Tennis Complex on Saturday, as the brothers teamed up to win the Class 5A doubles state championship with their father, Aaron, as their head coach.

The victory was even more emotional after the duo had lost in the state finals the year prior.

“I was pretty much a wreck all week,” said Aaron O’Donnell, the father-coach. “You think back to all of those years of trips and lessons and tournaments and the good days and the bad days, to see it all come to fruition was just… satisfying.

“As crushing and disappointing as that was last year, this was the complete opposite.”

Making the achievement even more special was that the O’Donnell brothers finished the season with a perfect 39-0 season.

“This is something that me and my brother have dreamed of doing for three years now,” said Dawson O’Donnell, a junior and younger brother. “To actually be able to win a championship with my brother as my teammate and my dad as my coach is just amazing.”

The two share the obvious connection of chemistry from playing together for years, but their individual games also compliment each other well. Dawson is the more aggressive big hitter, while Oakley, a senior, is an expert at setting up points and forcing opponents into Dawson’s deadly forehand.

They made it look easy in reaching the state finals, but even with their undefeated record, they knew anything could happen after losing to a team that they had beat three times earlier in the season in last year’s finals.

That was the scenario again on Saturday, as the O’Donnell brothers had beat the Andover Central pairing of seniors Isaac Huber and Trevor Sagehorn four times, including two postseason events at AV-CTL Div. II league and a 5A regional. This time, there would be no upset, as the O’Donnell duo took care of business with a 6-2, 6-2 victory in the finals.

“They had come so close last year, they looked at this year as unfinished business,” Aaron O’Donnell said. “I think this is the seventh (singles or doubles) state title and it’s been great to win them with other people’s kids. But it’s different, unique, special when you get to do it with your own kids. And they’re the only ones to go undefeated too.”

St. James Academy won its first team championship in program history, finishing with 29 team points and edging both Andover Central and Blue Valley Southwest by a single point.

BV Southwest junior Sanjay Rajkumar claimed the singles title, prevailing 6-3, 6-3 over Maize South sophomore Evan Goates, who capped a successful 33-3 season with his first appearance in a state final.

Other Wichita-area state medalists in the singles field included Bishop Carroll freshman Rock Steven (third), Eisenhower junior Kyle King (fifth), Andover Central junior Jaxon Post (sixth), Andover senior Paul Jittawait (10th) and Kapaun Mt. Carmel senior Jack Judkins (11th).

Other local medalists in the double field included Andover junior Isaac Homan and sophomore Lad Oborny (third), Kapaun Mt. Carmel sophomores Trey Lacy and John Korfhage (fourth), Bishop Carroll senior Jackson Rosa and sophomore Gabe Weber (sixth), Newton junior Nathaniel Haines and senior Greg Marsh (seventh), Maize South sophomores Brady Crawford and Preston Heard (ninth), Andover Central freshmen Henry Walker and Elias Kachelmeier (10th) and Valley Center senior Nicolas Azcorra Russo and sophomore Gabriel Shaffer (12th).

The Buhler boys tennis team won the first state championship in program history by claiming the 4A team title this past weekend.
The Buhler boys tennis team won the first state championship in program history by claiming the 4A team title this past weekend.

Class 4A boys tennis: Buhler wins first team state title

Buhler ended the three-year reign of Independence atop the Class 4A boys tennis world, as the Crusaders (40 points) edged the three-time defending champions (35) to win their first team championship in program history.

Buhler essentially had the team title wrapped up after the first day of the state tournament at Kossover Tennis Center in Topeka, as junior Davian Spies and senior Amos Harder both advanced to the singles semifinals, as did junior Von Woleslagle and sophomore Reuben Harder in the doubles semifinals.

Spies won the singles title, the second of his career, while Harder placed fourth and the doubles team took third.

“Watching Davian win the championship match after we already knew we had the team title locked up was just icing on the cake,” Buhler coach Matt Babcock said. “This team was really special. We knew we had a possibility of doing this after coming close last year. The difference this year was that we had a really good doubles team to go along with our singles.”

After winning the state singles title as a freshman, Spies fought through an injury at last year’s state tournament to take third. Fully healthy again, he returned to the top with a 7-6 (1), 3-6, 6-2 victory over Parsons sophomore Wyatt Shultz in the finals.

“Davian did a good job of winning most of the big points to get the job done,” Babcock said. “He’s a big hitter and sometimes those guys get in tight situations and start pushing the ball. But he’s a very mature kid on the tennis court and he kept trusting his shots and hitting big against a really good defensive player. He’s got all of the shots and he’s just a very talented player.”

The first-year pairing of Woleslagel and Reuben Harder proved to be dynamic, as the duo immediately clicked and became a title contender in every tournament. The pair had no issues reaching the semifinals, then took the eventual champions from Independence to a third set before winning by injury default in the third-place match.

The Winfield pairing of juniors Jackson Davis and Adam Everett came close to knocking off Independence’s Camdon Julian and Aiden Denney in the doubles final, but lost an epic, three-set match, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (3), 7-5.

Other area medalists in singles included Wellington senior Hunter Worley (fifth) and McPherson senior Hunter Mendez (seventh). Other area medalists in doubles included McPherson juniors Bryson Archer and Alex Berger (fourth), El Dorado freshmen Theron Mays and Lane Eck (sixth), Winfield senior Jackson Palmer and junior Matthew Norton (seventh) and Augusta seniors Logan Pfeifer and Logan Ruddle (11th).

Class 6A boys tennis: Maize, Derby picks up state medalists

At the 6A state tournament at Riverside Tennis Complex in Wichita, Blue Valley West won its second straight team title and fourth in the last seven tournaments.

BV West junior Francisco Landeras completed an undefeated season to win the singles titles, while the Shawnee Mission East duo of seniors George Kahl and Gregor Wiedeman prevailed in a third-set super tiebreaker to win the doubles title.

From the Wichita area, Maize junior Hayden Herrera, a regional champion, won four back-side matches, including avenging an earlier loss, to claim seventh place in a highly-competitive singles field. Meanwhile, the Derby duo of senior Coen Sowden and junior Evan Clark won four matches at state to take 11th place.