KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Suburban Conference Northland Tournament offers a potential preview of postseason matchups and one last chance to tinker with combinations ahead of postseason play. Park Hill South’s JD Nassab and Josh Robaska also learned a valuable lesson in the championship of the top doubles flight on Saturday, May 2 at Oak Park High School.
After leading 8-6, the Panthers’ top duo let a lead slip and settled for second place against Van Hopkins and Alex Fangman of St. Joseph Central, who won four straight games to win the match 10-8.
“It felt pretty good,” Robaska said. “Coming in second isn’t as good as first, but we definitely competed. We learned how much will we have. We need to definitely step up our game more if we want to get further later in the season.”
Robaska gave Park Hill South an 8-6 lead after hitting a hard overhead smash with the ball striking Hopkins in his midsection, leaving him writhing on the ground in pain for more than 10 minutes. When the match resumed, Central took control.
Overall, Park Hill South finished fourth out of 10 in the team standings with 37 points, which were earned for advancing through the brackets — A singles, B singles, A doubles and B doubles.
Park Hill finished as runnerup with 50 team points after sending players to the semifinals in all four brackets. Liberty claimed the overall championship with 57 points after winning three of the four individual titles.
“Liberty’s coming out on top,” Park Hill coach Rustin Reys said. “They have a really deep team. They’re strong up top and deep all the way through. Not many teams have beaten them in a dual match this year and the same goes for tournaments.”
Park Hill’s Ryan Moise made the finals in the B singles bracket, but lost 10-0 to Liberty’s TJ Stansbury in the championship match. The Trojans rallied after three semifinal defeats and claimed third place in the other three brackets.
Chandler To and Harim Lee defeated Park Hill South’s Brian Day and Mark Fricke in a tiebreaker to win the B doubles third-place match. Henry Eckold and Noah Higgins-Dunn won a tiebreaker against Liberty’s Aaron Burson and Aidan Bishop in the A doubles third-place match, and Jake McFee won an 8-4 match against Ray Tubaugh of Kearney to grab his third-place medal in A singles.
Park Hill South’s Ty Crabtree defeated Platte County’s Brody Nordike to start his run to the semifinals in B singles. Crabtree lost 8-1 to Kearney’s Alberto Esteban in the third place match.
“The biggest thing my kids need to learn is when you have the lead you have to finish,” Park Hill south coach Ian Cunliff said. “You can’t wait for people to go away because good players don’t go away.”
In A singles, Platte County’s Andy Day saw his tournament end in the consolation semifinals in a tiebreaker to Winnetonka’s Chris Frazier. The Pirates finished with six team points, tied with Oak Park for ninth, and won only two matches total.
Zack Regan and Connor St. Louis also won a consolation quarterfinal in B doubles.
Kearney 8, Platte County 1
The Bulldogs improved to 2-0 on the season against the Pirates and took a huge step toward winning the Suburban Conference Blue Division title.
Parker Ward and Spencer Kunz secured the only win for Platte County at No. 1 doubles on Tuesday, April 28 at Winnetonka High School in Kansas City, Mo. Kearney swept the six singles matches after taking the early 2-1 lead.
Winnetonka 5, Platte County 4
The Griffins avenged a prior loss, despite a big win for Ward on Thursday, April 30 at Winnetonka High School in Kansas City, Mo.
Ward topped Collin Monsees 10-6 in the No. 1 singles match, handing Winnetonka’s top player his first loss in Blue Division play this season. Monsees won their previous matchup during a 6-3 loss to Platte County earlier in the month.
Ward and Kunz also won at No. 1 doubles, but Platte County went into singles down 2-1. The two teams then split the final six matches with Ward, Kunz (No. 2) and Brody Nordike (No. 6) earning the wins.