Hillsboro’s Harry Faber earned a return trip to the Class 3-2-1A state tournament Friday by finishing as the runner-up in the singles division of the regional tournament hosted by Wichita Independent.
Faber, who placed ninth at state last season, picked up two victories on the court before losing to two-time state champion Jake Norman of Independent in the finals, 6-1, 6-1.
After receiving a bye in the opening round of 16, Faber defeated Nathaniel Clennan of Hutchinson Trinity, 6-1, 6-0, and Caleb Hendricks of Sterling, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2, to reach the title match.
“Harry battles for every point, which makes him tough to beat,” coach Stuart Holmes said. “His semifinal win in three sets was a terrific match, with long rallies as well as some excellent net play.”
Holmes said Faber’s high finish in regionals should help him in next week’s state tournament hosted by Hillsboro.
“It should help keep him from having to play the other top players in the state in the early rounds,” he said. “But everyone at state has some strengths as a player or else they wouldn’t have qualified.”
Faber will begin play at state with a 21-8 season record that includes 13 wins in his last 16 matches.
Hillsboro’s second singles entry, Daniel Gray, won his opening match against Andrew DiBitetto of Neodesha, 6-1, 6-3, before losing to Norman, 6-0, 6-0 in the round of eight.
Gray almost made it to state on the backside of the bracket that determines the fifth-place and sixth-place qualifiers, but he ended up losing to Anthony Lloyd of Independent, 2-6, 6-3, 0-6.
“Daniel played some of his best tennis in the second set to force a third set, but wasn’t able to maintain that level in the deciding set,” Holmes said.
In doubles, Jeff Pritchard and Tyler Funk ended their season in the first round with a close 7-6 (5), 7-5 loss to Engro and Houser of Douglass.
All four of Hillsboro’s regional players are seniors.
CKL tournament—Harry Faber earned all-league honors last Wednesday with a third-place finish in No. 1 singles at the Central Kansas League tournament in Pratt.
Faber, seeded No. 3, defeated sixth-seeded Nick Meng of Kingman in the first round, 6-0, 6-1, then lost in the semifinal round to the eventual champion, Keegan LeFevre of Hesston, 6-2, 6-0. Faber came back to beat No. 4 seeded Zach Brashear of Sterling, 6-4, 6-0, in the third-place match.
“Harry continued his excellent play to earn the third-place medal, which is a significant accomplishment,” coach Stuart Holmes said.
The two-time all-league performer finished the regular season with an 18-7 record.
The Trojans’ three other entries suffered first-round defeats. In No. 1 doubles, Tyler Funk and Jeff Pritchard opened with a marathon loss to Smoky Valley’s Schneider and Bellah, 6-4, 6-7 (7-5), 10-6.
“Our guys played for around two hours in the longest match of the day,” Holmes said.
Battling on the back side of the bracket, the Trojan duo defeated Brannan and Carlson of Haven 9-6, and Coon and Roe of Kingman 9-3, for a fifth-place finish.
“Jeff and Tyler played maybe their best tennis of the year,” Holmes said. The pair finished the regular season with a 6-12 record.
In No. 2 singles, Daniel Gray came up just short against Ryan Leroux of Kingman in the opening round, losing 6-4, 7-6 (7-2). With a bye in the first round of the consolation bracket, Gray then defeated Cody McKinnis of Haven, 9-0, for fifth place.
“He continues to be competitive at No. 2 singles and heads into the postseason with a 9-12 record,” Holmes said of the senior.
In No. 2 doubles, Ty Carey and River Cecil lost to Bhakta and Foreman of Pratt, 6-0, 6-2, then defeated Messenger and Roberts of Kingman 9-7 before losing to Burling and Kauffman of Haven 9-5 in the fifth-place match.
As a team, the Trojans tied Smoky Valley for fourth in points with 21, but received fifth place via tiebreaker rules.