Ichabod tennis swings into national tourney

Nathan Miller

It wasn’t looking like a storybook ending for a class of seniors that has made huge strides for Washburn tennis in its four years – a class that was two-time defending MIAA champion and reached such milestones as defeating Southwest Baptist for the first time in Washburn history. Failing to capture a third-straight MIAA title two weeks ago was a sign that the pages were about to quit turning for the Bods.

“We just really had to refocus,” said Brad Johnston, junior. “We have had the same mindset and goal all year long to make it to nationals. We wanted to send out the seniors in the right way.”

The four Bod seniors are well on their way to ending their career in the right way as the No. 27 Bods knocked off MIAA rival No. 26 Northwest Misssouri 5-2 Friday in the North Central Regional final. The win advances the Bods to the national tournament May 14-17 in Houston, Texas.

“It feels great,” said Johnston. “This is what we’ve worked hard for and I’m glad it paid off.”

The Bods led 3-0 after doubles play and finished off the Bearcats with singles wins at the No. 1 spot from senior Rutger Vliegenberg and the No. 2 spot from sophomore Ryan Ward. The win avenged a 5-4 loss just a month ago to the Bearcats.

“After winning all three doubles we knew we just had to take two singles to clinch it,” said Johnston. “Our confidence was just a lot higher this time around.”

For the second year in a row the Bods are headed to the Sweet 16, when they will take on No. 5 Barry. Barry defeated No. 19 Rollins 5-1 Saturday to advance to the Sweet 16. The Bods fell to Rollins 6-3 March 19.

“Florida really geared us up for nationals and showed us what we could do,” said Johnston. “It’s all a matter of what we can do in doubles, because we can beat anyone in the nation.”

The Bods bowed out of the Sweet 16 to Hawaii Pacific 5-2 last year, but this year one and done is the farthest thing from their minds. The winner of the match will advance to the Elite 8 and take on the winner of No. 7 Cameron vs. No. 19 Francis Marion.

Lady Blues stung

Five Lady Blues seniors received a stinger to end their tennis careers this past Thursday, as they fell 5-3 in the first round of the North Central Regional tournament to MIAA rival Emporia State. The Lady Hornets led 2-1 after doubles play and finished the Lady Blues off with singles wins at the No. 2, 3 and 5 spots.

The Lady Blues had just defeated the Lady Hornets 5-4 two weeks prior in the MIAA tournament. It is the second time in three years the Lady Hornets have ended the Lady Blues season in the first round of the North Central Regional. In 2006 the Lady Hornets defeated the Lady Blues 5-3.