Washburn men recover from loss to Wichita by beating Barton County; women win too

Double trouble Rutger Vliegenberg, left, and Andrew Plum, right, discuss strategy in their match against Barton County Saturday. Vliegenberg and Plum form the No. 1 doubles team.

Nathan Miller

You have to beat the best to be the best. The Bods crossed division lines Monday, getting swept by Division I Wichita State 9-0.

“We went in real fired up because this was the first time Washburn and Wichita State ever played,” said sophomore Ryan Ward. “Wichita State had been playing a lot of matches already and it was our season opener. We lost all three doubles matches really close, and [with] a couple more double matches under our belt we probably would have got it.”

Ward, at the No. 2 singles spot, was the only Bod to take the Shockers past two sets. Ward lost to senior Shocker Albert Ballesta 4-6, 6-2, 10-7.

“Singles-wise they were pretty strong,” said Ward. “I lost in the third set tiebreaker, and that was a pretty tough loss. Overall the attitude, though, was that it was a pretty good start for us and a little more time and we’re right there.”

Ward was huge for the Bods at the No. 4 spot last year, finishing 15-2.

“Near the end of the last year I wouldn’t have considered myself the No. 4 guy,” said Ward. “We just had our lineup set at the end of the year. I’ve been playing all summer. Stepping up isn’t that big of a difference for me. I know that now I will always have tough competition and I just need to be mentally ready.”

With junior Drew Hanson just coming off of a knee scope, the Bods are still playing with the lineup. Hanson played at the No. 2 singles spot last year, finishing the season 15-5.

“The biggest thing for us is to have the best player play at the best spot,” said Ward. “When Drew [Hanson] gets healthy and he is ready to play the two spot and is better than me, then he deserves it. We don’t have egos out here. It’s whoever will help us out the most.”

Hanson participated in doubles action Monday but did not play singles and was inactive Saturday. Hanson will get a third opinion this week as his knee is still in pain. Hanson said the question of whether or not he will return this season is up in the air.

The Bods gained some confidence back Saturday, beating Barton County 7-1.

“It just gives us a chance to boost our confidence getting some wins,” said Ward. “We have tougher competition coming up in the next two weeks and to have some wins under our belt is nice.”

The Bods will take on Cowley County this Saturday. The Tigers are 0-1 so far this season, getting swept by the University of Arkansas 9-0. The Tigers are ranked sixth in the NJCAA. The Bods will get a preview of future conference competition, as sophomore Tiger Sean Cobble signed to play for Emporia State next year.

The Lady Blues extended their consecutive regular season winning streak to 18 Saturday. They swept Barton County 9-0.

The Lady Blues will also take on Cowley County Saturday. The Lady Tigers finished fourth in the national tournament last year.