Railer netters send entire team to state

The Kansan
For just the second time in school history, the Newton High School boys’ tennis team qualified its entire varsity lineup to state. Qualifying were Otis Musser and Sam Claassen in singles and the doubles teams of Jonah Schloneger and Justin Franz, and Max Musser and Zeke Thompson. The state meet is Friday and Saturday at Maize South High School.

VALLEY CENTER — The Newton High School boys’ tennis team is sending the entire varsity contingent to state after taking third place in the Class 5A regionals.

Salina Central won the meet with 26 points, followed by Maize at 13, Newton at 12, Emporia at 4, Saline South at 2 and Valley Center at 1. Great Bend and Hays went scoreless.

Salina Central swept the top spots in both singles and doubles.

In singles, Conner Phelps downed Collin Phelps 6-1, 6-2. In the doubles finals, Reed McHenry and Max Shaffer downed Brady Stack and McCabe Green 6-1, 6-3.

The Railers were led by the team of Jonah Schloneger and Justin Franz, who beat Taylor Moorman and Brenden Keinholz of Emporia 6-3, 6-2 in the third-place match.

“These two just keep getting better and better,” Newton coach Nick Sisson said. “They were down 6-0, 1-0 on their way to a quarterfinal loss to Maize, and then just flipped a switch, and finished the day playing the best tennis I've seen from them all season taking third. I look for them to do well at State this weekend.”

Max Musser and Zeke Thompson fell to Calvin Murrell and Pierson Rogers of Maize for fifth place.

“They are such a dynamic team. They almost upset the no. 3 seed and instead lost a match that couldn't get any closer,” Sisson said. “They then rebounded to beat a good Valley Center team to ensure qualifying for State. Their effort after losing such a tough quarterfinal was a delight for our team, and a credit to their senior leadership. I look for them to do well at State as well.”

For Newton in singles play, Otis Musser downed teammate Sam Claassen in the fifth-place match 6-2, 6-3.

“Otis didn't get to play as a freshman due to canceled season, so it is tough to be asked to lead the team in singles with no high school experience,” Sisson said. “But he has done an exceptional job. His growth and maturity in the game over the past two months has been a joy to watch.

“Sam is both our biggest surprise and most improved player this season. He has stepped up to help make our team a complete success and I'm so very proud of him. Watching him qualify for state yesterday was one of my top moments as a coach.”

The state meet will be Friday and Saturday at Maize South High School.

“So very proud of all the boys and the way they represent our school and community with great character,” Sisson said. “Also, thank you to all the parents who support our program in so many ways.”

Mark Schnabel can be reached at mschnabel@thekansan.com