ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Even though Michael Hagen, Hillsboro’s No. 1 singles player, lost a heartbreaking marathon match in the tournament finals, the HHS tennis team claimed a Class 3-2-1A regional championship Monday afternoon at the Sports Complex in Hillsboro.
The Trojans’ doubles team of Jared Hefley and Brandon Ratzlaff carried the day by winning the doubles crown.
Hillsboro scored 11 points during the day to edge Hesston by a single point. Marantha Academy finished third with 6 points.
After a first-round bye, Hagen marched to the championship match by beating Steven Constant of Kansas City Christian and Steve Claassen of Hesston by the identical scores of 6-4, 6-0.
In the finals, Hagen tied up with Adam Ehrlich of Maranatha for a classic title match. Ehrlich won the first set, 7-5, but Hagen came back to take the second set by an identical score.
The third and deciding set went Ehlich’s way, 7-6, when he won the tie-breaker game 7-5. Hagen was ahead 4-1 in the tie breaker, but Ehrlich fought back for the win.
“Those two have played each other four times and every time it’s gone to three sets,” said coach Lonnie Isaac. “They’re just two very evenly matched players.”
In doubles play, Hefley and Ratzlaff received a first-round bye, then defeated Gordon/Stuart of Marantha 6-1, 6-3, and Christophel/Young of Hesston, 6-1, 6-1, to advance to the championship match. They won the title with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 win over Sanders and Clubb of Sterling.
Hillsboro’s Adam Driggers, seeded eighth in singles defeated Kyle Davis of Sacred Heart, 6-4, 6-2, in his opening singles round, then fell to Ehrlich, 2-6, 0-6.
In doubles, Hillsboro Jordan Woelk and Jesse Janzen, seeded fifth, won their opening match against the 12th-seeded pair, Hayes/Meyers of Maranatha, 6-2, 6-2. They lost in the semifinals to Christophel/Young, 1-6, 1-6.
By finishing among the top four in their respective divisions, Hagen Hefley and Ratzlaff will advance to state competition, which starts Friday at Hesston.
Matches begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday and will resume at 10 a.m. Saturday.