The Hesston College men’s tennis team recently competed in the 2015 NJCAA national tournament in Plano, Texas, finishing 24th among 27 teams. The Larks posted seven regular-season team wins in 2015 to go with an impressive effort at the Region VI post-season match.
“This year’s turnaround was fun to watch,” Hesston coach Myron Diener said. “We improved dramatically from a year ago, and I believe our showing at nationals was strong enough to show the guys belonged there.”
In Plano, freshman Keegan LeFevre (Hesston, Kan.) jumped out to an early 4-1 first-set lead in one singles, but was unable to hang on, dropping his opening match 6-4, 6-2. Freshman Caleb Schrock-Hurst (Harrisonburg, Va.) took the opening set in his second-round singles match before falling in a second-set tie-breaker and finally dropped the third set 6-3 in a three-and-a-half-hour heartbreaking loss.
Sophomores Eric Cender (Valparaiso, Ind.) and Yuu Sakaguchi (Isehara-shi, Kanagawa-ken, Japan) started strong at two doubles, winning the initial eight games only to drop the next two sets, 6-3 and 6-4.
Schrock-Hurst and Yuki Torri (Aichi-ken, Nishio-shi, Japan) secured the lone opening-round win for the Larks, winning 6-2, 6-2 at three doubles before falling to the number two seed in the second round.
Cender, Sakaguchi, Schrock-Hurst and Lucas Caywood (Burrton, Kan.) picked up wins in the back draw at two, three, four and six singles, respectively, giving the Larks a total of 5.5 points for the tournament.
“It was a great experience to be able to play in a tournament of this level,” Diener added. “Hopefully we can make this an annual trip.”