Toland has new state attitude

By JOCELYN SHEETS
Register Sports Editor

Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Iola High junior Kent Toland prepares for his third straight Class 4A state tennis tournament Friday and Saturday in Salina.

Playing determined and aggressively but not with self-imposed pressure is Kent Toland’s new attitude approaching this weekend’s Kansas Class 4A Boys Tennis State Tournament.
The Iola High junior has been to state twice in his three-year high school tennis career. Toland has finished 11th in singles competition at state twice.
“I was disappointed with my finish last year because I didn’t improve my placing at state. I put a lot of pressure on myself,” Toland said.
“I’m determined to im-prove on that this year but play more relaxed. I want to play aggressively but go out and play like I have nothing to lose.”
Toland goes into Friday’s opening round of the state tournament at 23-3. He has only been beaten by one player — Dan Porter of Independence.
Toland takes the No. 2 seed from the Independence substate tournament into the state tournament. He said he liked where he was seeded this season.
“Getting the No. 2 seed out of the substate is better than the No. 3 seed like I was last year. Though I don’t know for sure which player I’ll have to play the first match but it will be one of three No. 3 seeds from other substates,” Toland said.
Players don’t know pairings for the first-round of the double-elimination state tournament until they arrive at the state site. The 2009 tournament is at Oakdale Park in Salina.
“I have an idea because I’ve looked on line at the qualifiers and I know I’ll go up against a No. 3 seed. But it really doesn’t matter because I’m just going out and playing my best each match,” Toland said.
Toland said the best part of his tennis game is his forehand shot.
“That’s my go-to-shot during matches. My serve is pretty good also but not my second serve.”
Going to state for the third straight time, Toland doesn’t find himself nervous. He said the experience of playing at the state tournament and his maturity has helped his game this season. Most of the matches he played this season To-land has been the favorite except for the three losses to Porter.
“Dan’s a very good player. I lost to him in the substate final on Friday then turned around to play him in the SEK (league) championship match Monday,” Toland said. Both matches were played on Porter’s home court in Independence.
“Dan told me after the SEK match that he really wanted to win that one because it was his last match at home. Coach (Ken) Brown (of Independence) told me he had seen a lot of SEK championship singles matches and Monday’s was as good as he had seen.”
Toland said playing against Porter, who is a senior and was third at state a year ago, has prepared him for state competition.
“My approach is to play aggressively but stay re-laxed,” he said.
Matches at the state tournament begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday. Matches start at 9 a.m. Saturday.