ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Kyle Kroeker went 3-2 at the Class 3-2-1A state tennis tournament in Cimarron Friday and Saturday, giving him sixth place in singles.
Kroeker, the Trojans’ lone entry in the tournament, opened with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Nolan Kempke of Claflin, then lost to the No. 1 seed and eventual repeat champion Dylan Gatton of Kansas City Christian 1-6, 0-6, before battling back in the consolation bracket with a 9-7 win over Todd Shelite of South Barber.
Against Shelite, Kroeker’s third match on a 100-degree day, the Trojan junior battled back from a 6-7 deficit to win three straight games and advance.
On Saturday, Kroeker started with a 9-2 win over Derek Ohl of Hutchinson Trinity. In the battle for fifth, Kroeker lost to Zack Alholm of KCC, 7-9, who had taken fourth place at state a year ago.
“It was unbelievable for a fifth-place match who he had to play,” coach Kory Unruh said. “He’s a great player, and Kyle played him close. He was down 1-6, then decided to start competing. He got it back to 7-8 and was close to getting it into a tiebreaker. If he had gotten the tiebreaker, I think (Kroeker) would have beaten him.
“Kyle played great-he had a great tournament,” Unruh added. “I think he was playing the best tennis he’s played all year. He won ever match I thought he should have won.
“I’m very proud of him.”