The Gering boys tennis team travels to Lincoln for the state tennis championship on Thursday, Oct. 17 and Friday, Oct. 18.

The Bulldog’s No. 1 singles player Mark Karpf and No. 2 singles player Hunter Walker drew first-round byes. And, Bulldog tennis coach Ron Swank said that will work in their favor.

Walker will play the winner of a match between Scottsbluff’s Kade Huck and Creed Martin, of Kearney Catholic.

“(Huck) in Scottsbluff is a ninth-grader that got rewarded for working his way up,” Ron Swank said. “He plays a kid from Kearney Catholic. He’ll wear down either one of them. He’s really good. It will just be good because of the fatigue factor.”

With only anywhere from a half hour to an hour between matches, Swank said fatigue will play a factor.

“When Mark isn’t tired, Mark’s tough,” he said. “Hunter is wound all of the time.”

He said the bye will also work in their favor because the temperature will rise by the time they hit the court.

“The singles probably won’t play until 10. Or 10:30 even. It will be good. They can go cheer the doubles on,” he said.

Karpf will play Connor Barret of Omaha Skutt Catholic.

“(Barret has) played a lot of really good players,” Swank said. “He’s a 50-50 (winning percentage) guy. He’ll be no slouch. They never are coming out of Omaha Skutt Catholic.”

Swank said his doubles teams also have a good shot of advancing to the second day of the tournament.

“If doubles play like they’re capable (they should make it to the second day of the tournament). They play in streaks. They play lights out, then they go away,” he said. “No. 2 doubles has a good shot, too. Noah (Moreno) is really new this year, but he hits a beautiful ball. It’s just learning where to go with the ball. David (Karpf’s) got good hands. He will be a stalwart for us next year.”

Swank said the Bulldogs are entering new territory this year. They have never had three seeds going into the state tournament. He said he doesn’t believe Scottsbluff has had three seeds either until this year.

“It’s just a compliment to both programs to how they’ve worked really hard,” he said.

Swank said it was nice closing out the regular season on a positive note.

“We had a really good weekend at McCook. I was pleased at McCook,” he said. “Their attitude is different. They don’t go in (to tournaments) defeated anymore. Now, they know how to win.”

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Jeff Van Patten is the sports editor of the Star-Herald. Jeff can be reached by calling 308-632-9050 or emailing jeff.vanpatten@starherald.com.

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