Toland captures sixth at 4A state tennis

By JOCELYN SHEETS
Register Sports Editor

Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Soaring to a strong backhand return shot is Iola High junior Kent Toland during his fifth-place match at Saturday’s 2009 Kansas Class 4A State Boys’ Tennis Tournament. Toland lost the match 9-4 but claimed the sixth-place medal at the state tournament in Salina.
Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Reaching for a wide shot is Iola High’s Kent Toland in a state tournament match Saturday morning in Salina. Toland won the match 9-7.

SALINA — Kent Toland was determined to improve on his two previous trips to the Kansas Class 4A State Boys’ Tennis Tournament.
And he did. The Iola High junior captured the sixth-place medal in singles competition Saturday at Salina’s Oakdale Park.
“Enough of this 11th place stuff,” Toland told the Register Friday night after he went 2-1 on the first day of action. As a freshman and sophomore, Toland ended up 11th at the state tournament.
He opened the 2009 Kansas Class 4A State Boys’ Tennis Tournament with a solid 6-1, 6-2 victory over Thomas Haefele, a senior from Topeka Hayden High School.
“I was playing some very good tennis in that match. I was dictating the action with my forehand which is exactly what I wanted to do,” Toland said.
Toland took on Ryan Norman, a senior from Wichita Independent, in the next round. Toland said Norman, who has signed to play tennis at Creighton University next year, attacked Toland’s backhand and had the advantage throughout the match.
Norman, who was the eventual state champion, defeated Toland 6-0, 6-0. At the same time Toland was losing, so was the tournament’s top seeded player, Andrew Konetzni, a junior from DeSoto. Konetzni was upended by last year’s champion, Chase Dippel of Smoky-Valley.
Toland and Konetzni were set on a collision path. The two won their final matches on Friday.
Toland beat Leon Blacher, a senior from Pratt, 9-5. He said he was happy with the way he regrouped and played in this match.
“It was good to be able to break through and know I was going to play for a state medal on Saturday,” Toland said. “I broke his serve in the first game to go up 1-0 then it was a matter of holding serve until I was up 5-4. From there, I just played solid tennis and got the win.”
Saturday brought its own say into the tournament. Cool winds and sunshine had spectators wrapped in jackets and blankets. Players opted for long sleeve shirts or sweatshirts early in the morning.
First up for Toland was Hesston sophomore Jesse Voth-Gaeddert. Voth-Gaeddert held serve on the first game then neither player could hold serve.
Toland was down 4-3 and held serve to tie the match. The match was tied again at 7-7 when Toland broke Voth-Gaeddert serve to take the advantage.
“In that match it was my mental game that won it more than the strokes. It was a tough, close match. When I held serve at 6-7, I played aggressively, came in on the net and had a big forearm shot,” Toland said.
“I got the lead in the match and that was big at the end. I served for the win.”
Toland defeated Voth-Gaeddert 9-7. The win put Toland in the fifth-place match against Konetzni, who came into the state tournament at 30-1.
Toland jumped out to a 2-0 lead then Konetzni tied the match at 3-3, breaking Toland’s serve. The match was tied again at 4-4.
Toland was down 5-4 and serving but had trouble putting the service game away.
“I had two very long deuce (tied) on my serves and that was a problem. When he had the wind at his back it was really tough especially when he was serving,” Toland said.
Toland dropped a 9-4 decision in the fifth-place match.
“But I was happy with the way I played this year. I wanted to improve my placing and I did that. I very happy with the sixth-place medal this year. I know what I need to work on so I can come back next year. I’ll work over the summer on making my game better,” Toland said.
Toland said having Mustang head coach Lyle Kern this season helped a lot. There were several conferences between coach and player during matches.
In the team standings at the state tournament, Smoky Valley won the championship with 40 points. Wichita-Independent was second with 28 points and Independence in third with 25 points.
Toland put Iola at eighth with seven points.
Norman, who was last year’s Class 3-2-1A singles champion, defeated Chase Dippel 7-5, 6-1 in the championship match.
Abilene’s Logan Palenske and Nick Wehling defeated Smoky Valley’s Jerrod Altenborg and Seth Nelson for the doubles championship.