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City legend Hedberg No. 1 on TSN Best of the Best Coaches tennis list

By RICK PETERSON

TopSports.news

Topeka tennis legend Kevin Hedberg, who retired this spring after 43 years of high school coaching, earned the No. 1 position on TopSports.news' Top 10 Best of the Best Shawnee County Coaches tennis list.

KevinHedbergnewRetiring Washburn Rural tennis coach Kevin Hedberg led the Junior Blues to five state team championships and 24 top-three state finishes over a legendary 43-year high school coaching career. [File photo/TSN]

JamesSandstromnewHayden tennis coach James Sandstrom has led the Wildcat boys to four Class 4A state team titles and 16 top-three state finishes overall in boys and girls tennis. [Submitted]

CoreyWilsonCorey Wilson

ConnieRobertsonConnie Robertson 

Hedberg coached at Washburn Rural the past 32 seasons after an 11-year stint at Seaman, leading the Junior Blues to a Class 6A girls state title in 1993 and boys state championships in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007.

A member of the Topeka Tennis Association Hall of Fame, Hedberg coached singles and doubles champions in both boys and girls tennis while coaching 24 teams (boys and girls combined) to top-three state team finishes. 

Current Hayden boys coach and former Wildcat girls coach James Sandstrom holds down the No. 2 spot on the Best of the Best list, coaching Hayden to Class 4A boys state championships in 2004, 2005, 2004 and 2019 and 16 teams that have posted top-three finishes in the state tournament, including four state runner-up teams (boys and girls combined).

Former Topeka West coach Corey Wilson, former Hayden coach Connie Robertson and current Topeka West coach Kurt Davids round out the top five on the Best of the Best Top 10.

Sandstrom, Hedberg and Wilson also earned the top three places in the Reader's Choice poll, with Sandstrom claiming the No. 1 spot, followed by Hedberg and Wilson in balloting by TSN readers.

A five-person panel of current and past sports media professionals with more than 150 years of combined experience met to help determine the final Best of the Best Top 10.

Former Washburn Rural state championship coach Bob Gladfelter is No. 6 on the Best of the Best list, followed by Topeka High state champ John MacDonald, former Topeka High coach Larry Reid, Hayden girls coach Christy Sheetz and former Shawnee Heights coach Mike Bass to round out the Top 10..

Here's a look at the Top 10 and Readers Choice Awards:

TSN TOP 10 BEST OF THE BEST TENNIS COACHES

1. Kevin Hedberg -- Hedberg retired this spring after a highly-successful 43-year high school coaching career. After coaching at Seaman for 11 years, Hedberg moved to Washburn Rural for 32 seasons, where he led the Junior Blues to a Class 6A girls state title in 1993 and boys state championships in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007. Hedberg coached singles and doubles champions in both boys and girls tennis while coaching 24 teams (boys and girls combined) to top-three state team finishes. Hedberg was a charter inductee into the Topeka Tennnis Association Hall of Fame.

2. James Sandstrom -- Sandstrom has coached Hayden to Class 4A boys state championships in 2004, 2005, 2004 and 2019 and 16 teams that have posted top-three finishes in the state tournament., including four state runner-up teams (boys and girls combined).  Sandstrom has coached multiple state individual champs, including four-time 4A state singles champ Tommy Hunter.

3. Corey Wilson -- Wilson coached Topeka West to Class 6A girls state team titles in 1985, 1987 and 1994 and led nine Charger teams (boys and girls combined) to top-four state finishes in 6A. Wilson is a member of the Topeka West Athletic Hall of Fame.

4. Connie Robertson -- Robertson coached Hayden's girls to 15 state tournament appearances and the Wildcat boys to 14 state berths, including seven state championship players. Robertson led the Wildcats to seven top-four state team finishes (boys and girls combined), including three runner-up finishes. Robertson is a member of multiple halls of fame, including the Topeka Tennis Association Hall of Fame.

5. Kurt Davids -- Davids coached Topeka West's boys to a second-place Class 5A team finish this past fall and has coached four other Charger teams (boys and girls combined) to top-four state team finishes in 5A. Davids has coached individual boys state champions in singles and doubles, including Ian and Miles Cusick in 2022.

6. Bob Gladfelter -- Gladfelter coached Washburn Rural's girls to the Class 6A state team championship in 1990 and also coached the Junior Blues to runner-up state girls team finishes in 5A in 1986 and in 6A in 1991.

7. John MacDonald -- MacDonald coached Topeka High to the Class 6A state boys team title in 1989 and also coached the Trojans to a fourth-place team finish in 1986 and a tie for second (third on a tiebreaker) in 1987.

8. Larry Reid -- The late Reid, who also coached football at Topeka High, coached the Trojan tennis teams long before the advent of state team championships in Kansas in the mid-1980s, but Reid coached four state singles champs. Reid is a member of the Topeka Tennis Association Hall of Fame.

9. Christy Sheetz -- Sheetz has coached four Hayden girls teams to top-three state finishes in the Class 5A state tournament since 2015, including a second-place finish in 2018 and a tie for second (third on a tiebreaker) last fall. Sheetz coached four-time state singles champ Brooklyn Hunter.

10. Mike Bass -- The former Shawnee Heights coach led the T-Birds to a second-place team finish in Class 5A in 2008 and third-place finishes in 1999 and 2005, with the '05 team two points out of first. Bass coached 5A state singles champs Branden and Chance Joost at Heights. 

READERS CHOICE TENNIS AWARDS

1. James Sandstrom -- No. 2 in TSN Best of the Best Top 10 (see capsule above).

2. Kevin Hedberg -- No. 1 in TSN Best of the Best Top 10 (see capsule above).

3. Corey Wilson -- No. 3 in TSN Best of the Best Top 10 (see capsule above).

4. Christy Sheetz -- No. 9 in TSN Best of the Best Top 10 (see capsule above).

5. Kurt Davids -- No. 5 in TSN Best of the Best Top 10 (see capsule above).

6. Bob Gladfelter -- No. 6 in TSN Best of the Best Top 10 (see capsule above).

7. Duane Pomeroy -- Pomeroy is the longtime boys and girls coach at Topeka High, leading the Trojans for more than two decades and numerous state tournament appearances.

8. Connie Robertson -- No. 4 in TSN Best of the Best Top 10 (see capsule above).

9. Andrew Gill -- A Seaman graduate and former Viking coach, Gill led the Seaman girls to the city team championship in 2020.

10. Larry Reid -- No. 8 in Best of the Best Top 10 (see capsule above). 

Next up: Track and field Best of the Best Top 10 and Reader's Choice awards.