Normally, when you finish fifth in a tennis regional, you don?t expect to make an impact at state. Hillsboro?s Grant Shewey had different expectations.
In a field of 24 qualifiers, the Trojan junior battled wind and cool temps Friday and Saturday at the Hillsboro Sports Complex on the way to a 4-2 record and a sixth-place finish in the Class 3-2-1A tournament.
The six singles qualifiers who came out of last week?s regional in Wichita took five of the top six places at state, including first through fourth.
?I knew the competition at regionals was going to be pretty tough compared to the rest of the field at state,? Shewey said. ?I knew if I could get fifth in our regional I could get just about that good a place at state.?
Shewey opened the tournament with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Jacob Weber of Trego, but then lost to league nemesis Jordan Stewart of Sterling, 6-4, 6-4, in the second round. He finished the day with a 9-0 breeze versus Eli Alholm of Kansas City Christian.
Shewey opened play Saturday with a dramatic 9-8 (7-4) win over Jaret Johnson of Larned in a match that took a difficult turn when a string broke on Shewey?s racket.
?When I was watching him the day before, he was looking really tough, so I really wasn?t expecting to compete with him the way I did,? Shewey said. ?He had a really difficult serve.
?I was up three games and so I really just had to focus on getting the ball in and trying to finish out the match,? he said.
?I knew a different racket wouldn?t have the same feel so I wasn?t going to be able play my game.
?I couldn?t serve at all with the other racket.?
After surviving that battle, Shewey defeated Jared Friesen of Meade, 9-2, to earn a spot in the fifth-place match against none other than his second-round opponent, Stewart from Sterling.
?I knew the first time I played him, that was the best match I had given him all season,? Shewey said. ?I?ve played him probably nine times during my high school career.
?I knew if I had a match like (Friday?s), I could beat him on Saturday. But Saturday he was playing probably the best he?s ever played against me.?
Stewart prevailed, 9-3.
?Grant not only did an excellent job physically of consistently hitting good shots, but he also did a great job with his strategy and the mental part of the game,? coach Stuart Holmes said.
?In each match, he took into consideration his opponents? strengths and weaknesses very well and hit shots with a specific location or pace that really helped him win points.?
Shewey, who finished the season with a 22-8 record, said he was pleased with the outcome.
?Starting the year, I was set a goal to get to the top eight at state,? he said. ?I knew if I would break that, I would be proud of myself. And I am.?
He also is aware that three of the players who placed ahead of him this weekend are seniors.
?If I can keep up the play that I had toward the end of this season, and if I can improve, I?d like to place better than sixth next year,? Shewey said.
Jake Norman of Wichita Independent won the singles title by beating Daniel Ritchie of Wichita Collegiate, 6-1, 6-4.
Cor?ban Aspegren of Indepen?dent finished third and Travis Osland of Collegiate was fourth.