Railers place fifth at state tennis

The Kansan
Newton senior Jonah Schloneger competes in doubles play at the Class 5A state tournament.
Newton sophomore Justin Franz competes in doubles play at the Class 5A state tournament.
Newton senior Sam Claassen competes in singles play Friday at the Class 5A state tournament.
Newton senior Max Musser competes in doubles play at the Class 5A state tournament.
Newton senior Zeke Thompson competes in doubles play at the Class 5A state tournament.
Newton sophomore Otis Musser competes in singles play at the Class 5A state tournament.

MAIZE — With five of the six Newton High School boys’ tennis players winning medals, Railers secured a fifth-place finish Friday and Saturday at the Class 5A state tournament at Maize South.

Salina Central won the team title with 40 points, followed by host Maize South with 37, Maize with 27 and Kapaun-Mt. Carmel with 19. Newton, St. Thomas Aquinas and Mill Valley all scored 16 points. There were 23 schools in competition.

“Behind the first- and second-place teams, we’re bringing home the most medals,” Newton coach Nick Sisson said. “I’m really excited about that. They just all showed up. They knew (Friday) how deep this state tournament was going to be. They knew to get medals, they were going to have to play their best tennis. I’m proud of all of them. They put forth a wonderful effort and got better in every match.”

In doubles play, the team of Jonah Schloneger and Justin Franz finished fifth at won their first two matches, but lost in the quarterfinals to league rivals Grayson Wright and Garrison Wright of Maize South 6-3, 6-2.

“The match was a lot closer than the score,” Schloneger said. “Every game was very close. We were really playing well. They are a great team. They are in the final here.”

The Wrights fell in the finals to Reed McHenry and Max Shaffer of Salina Central.

In the consolation quarterfinals, Schloneger and Franz downed teammates Max Musser and Zeke Thompson 9-1.

The pair returned to play Saturday, beating Gavin Bhargava and Johnathan Mclivain of Kapaun-Mt. Carmel 9-3. In the fifth—place match, the Newton duo stopped the team of Calvin Murrell and Pierson Rogers of Maize 9-5.

In the fifth-place match, the Railer squad was never broken on serve and broke Maize’s serve four times.

“They are tough servers,” Schloneger said. “They are very good servers. That was the second time we played them. We won in a super tie-breaker last week at regionals. They’re a great team. Last time, the hopped on us and got up early. This time, we got on top right away. That makes a difference where it’s just a race to nine. We talked and did our job.”

“They got better and better all year long,” Sisson said. “To get to where they finished, they went 5-1 in the state tournament. Their only losses in the last two weeks were to the state champs or the state runners-up. That’s the only ones who beat them.”

Schloneger signed to play tennis at Friends University in the fall.

“It will take a lot of work,” Franz said of preparation for his junior season. “I just have to put in more work. Get some more people playing. We need to get some more people out. I like playing doubles and think I’ll be playing doubles again next year.”

Both said they were active last summer in preparing for this year.

“Our coach held some clinics last summer,” Schloneger said. “We had a high-performance group. We worked all summer.”

“We played a lot in June,” Franz said. “We got out every week. There’s a doubles team from Hesston that’s in the 3A semis — Cole Deutschendorf — He came to our group and played with us. We had some other people in the area. We were working all summer and worked some in the winter.”

Max Musser and Zeke Thompson finished in 12th place. The two won in the first round, but lost in the second round to John Steven II and Barrett Steven of Bishop Carroll 6-0, 6-0. The two then won their next two consolation rounds to clinch a medal, before facing their teammates in the consolation quarterfinals.

Saturday, Max Musser and Thompson lost to Ian Cusick and Miles Cusick of Topeka West 9-5. In the 11th place match, the Newton pair lost to Taylor Moorman and Brenden Kienholz of Emporia 9-4.

Max Musser and Thompson are both seniors and end the season 25-18.

In singles play, Otis Musser opened the day with a first-round loss, but came back and won two straight to clinch a medal. In the consolation quarterfinals, Otis Musser lost to Connor Phelps of Salina Central 9-2. In the consolation semifinals, Otis Musser lost to Harris Kossover of Maize South 9-3. In the 11th-place match, he lost to Charlie Rieke of St. James Academy 9-3.

A sophomore, Otis Musser ends the season 20-17.

Senior Sam Claassen went 0-2 and finishes the season 10-22.

Newton loses four seniors off the varsity squad.

“They played all summer,” Sisson said. “I had Otis and Justin since they were 12. I had Jonah since he was 13. They all trained with me for five or six weeks in the summer. They worked really hard in the summer. They play in summer tournaments, but we didn’t have many of those because of COVID. 

“We have two sophomores back in Otis Musser and Justin Franz. We have a nice-sized program, we have a good summer program and we have some good parent support. We’ll keep building. They need to get out all summer and do as much as they can. Most of our kids don’t train much outside of Newton. Some of them might play indoors at Riverside, but they train in Newton. We’re a home-grown team. They play as much as they can in the off-season and we’ll get at it in March.

Class 5A State Tennis

Friday and Saturday

at Maize South HS

Team scores — Salina Central 40, Maize South 37, Maize 27, Kapaun-Mt. Carmel 19, Newton 16, St. Thomas Aquinas 16, Mill Valley 16, Topeka West 12, Bishop Carroll 12, Blue Valley Southwest 10, Arkansas City 7, St. James Academy 6, Emporia 4, Andover Central 2, Goddard Eisenhower 2, Andover 1, DeSoto 0, Lansing 0, Leavenworth 0, Pittsburg 0, Shawnee Heights 0, Highland Park 0, Topeka Seaman 0.

Newton results

Singles

12. Otis Musser (2-4, 20-17): 1. L Charlie Rieke, St. James Academy 6-0, 6-1; C1. W Paul Jittawait, Andover 9-6; C2. W Jack Judkins, Kapaun-Mt. Carmel 9-6; CQF. L Connor Phelps, Salina Central 9-2; CSF. L Harry Kossover, Maize South 9-3; 11th place: L Charlie Rieke, St. James Academy 9-3.

Sam Claassen (0-2, 10-24): 1. L Vishal Rajkumar, Blue Valley Southwest 6-1, 6-0; C1. L Braxton Roy, Goddard Eisenhower score n/a.

Doubles

5. Jonah Schloneger-Justin Franz (5-1, 29-9): 1. W Romine-Remington, Lansing 6-0, 6-0; 2. W Mendoza-Starkey, St. James Academy 6-2, 6-0; QF. L Wright-Wright, Maize South 6-3, 6-2; CQF. W M.Musser-Thompson, Newton 9-1; CSF. W Bhargava-Mclivain, Kapaun-Mt. Carmel 9-3; Fifth place. W Murrell-Rogers, Maize 9-5.

12. Max Musser-Zeke Thompson (3-4, 25-18): 1. W Johnson-Sharma, Shawnee Heights 6-1, 6-2; 2. L Steven-Steven, Bishop Carroll 6-0, 6-0; C1. W Hoffman-Cosens, Pittsburg 9-3; C2. W Stove-Verdict, Mill Valley 9-4; CQF. L Schloneger-Franz, Newton 9-1; CSF. L Cusick-Cusick, Topeka West 9-5; 11th place: L Moorman-Kienholz, Emporia 9-4.

Mark Schnabel can be reached at mschnabel@thekansan.com