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Kearney High looking for top finishes at state tennis
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Kearney High looking for top finishes at state tennis

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KEARNEY — The Kearney High tennis team has enjoyed one of its best-ever seasons, going undefeated in duals and posting some of its highest finishes in larger meets.

With the state tournament Thursday and Friday at Omaha, the Bearcats hope to finish the year in style.

Based on their state tournament seeds, they’ll get that opportunity.

“This team is one of the better teams I’ve had, results-wise,” KHS coach Troy Saulsbury said. “We’ve really competed and played top-notch teams week in and week out. Hopefully that schedule and seeing that competition will have us ready to play well.”

In all four divisions, Kearney has an entry seeded in the Top 10, led by the No. 2 doubles team of Quinten Shaffer and Andy Vu, who are seeded second after going 31-6 this season.

“I think they’re peaking at the right time,” Saulsbury said. “Things are starting to click for them. They’re jelling and doing the right things they need to do in doubles.”

Asher Saulsbury (26-7), the third seed at No. 1 singles, likewise is finishing the year strong.

“He beat the No 4 seed last week 6-0, 6-1 or 6-1, 6-0, and beat him again Friday,” Troy Saulsbury said.

But Asher will have a challenge in the quarterfinals against seventh-seeded Andrew Nelson of Elkhorn South, if the seeds stay true. Nelson has won two of the three head-to-head matches. Saulsbury’s other four losses are to second-seeded Kirby Le of Lincoln East.

Also for Kearney, Samuel Rademacher and Jackson Bokenkamp (23-9) are seeded sixth at No. 1 doubles and Eli Bond (23-12) is the 10th seed at No. 2 singles.

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“Our depth is our key. ... We don’t have a weak spot. All four divisions medaled in every tournament we’ve been in,” Coach Saulsbury said.

In the tail end of the season, Kearney beat defending state champion Lincoln Southwest 7-2 in a dual and pushed Lincoln East, which has three No. 1 seeds and Le seeded second.

“We’re excited about that,” Saulsbury said.

Kearney has recorded 25 Top 10 finishes since entering Class A in 1987 — one year after winning the Class B state championship with three champions and a runner-up.

With nearly the same team, Kearney finished second in Class A in 1987 and has had nine top-five finishes since then.

This year could easily end with another Top 5 finish.

“We’ve had a great season. The guys definitely deserve the seeds they got. But we know we have to go out compete and continue to play well down in Omaha,” Saulsbury said.

Play begins at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Koch Family Tennis Center with the finals scheduled for Friday afternoon.

In Class B, Kearney Catholic has three seeded entries — Dillon Beachy and Taten Shoemaker (12-8), seventh at No. 2 doubles; Kade Schrock (20-12), 10th at No. 1 singles; and Matthew Eschenbrenner (20-17) at No. 2 singles.

All four Lexington entries are seeded, including the No. 2 doubles team of Dru Truax and Christpher Swartz (35-8), who are the third seed at No. 2 doubles. Other seeded Minutemen are: Ethan Mins and Agustin Lopez-Ibarra (29-22), 10th at No. 1 doubles; Morgan Bailey (16-21), 11th at No. 2 singles; and Graysen Strauss (21-16), 12th at No. 1 singles;

The lone seeded entry from Holdrege is the No. 1 doubles team of Hunter Ness and Jaxson Karn (17-12), who are ninth.

Class B play gets underway at 9 a.m. Thursday at Woods Tennis Center in Lincoln.

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