STLTODAY – BOYS TENNIS
Full STLTODAY article can be found by clicking below:
For the first time in school history, Clayton qualified a team as well as the maximum six individuals (two singles players and two doubles teams) to the boys tennis state tournament at Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield.
The team portion of the tournament is scheduled for Thursday and the individual part of the tournament is set for Friday and Saturday.
Despite the historic accomplishment, Greyhounds coach Susie Luten said her team will be a decided underdog Thursday in the Class 1 team tournament.
“I classify teams as good, better, best, below average or bad,” Luten said. “I put us in the good category. We realize that our road here was not a tough one.”
Clayton breezed through the postseason, defeating Dexter 5-0 in the Class 1 sectional round and DuBourg 5-0 in the quarterfinals.
Luten received an encouraging text message after reaching state from Kevin Rosenthal, who was on the team which finished fourth at state last year.
“He wished us good luck at state and said to remember that Megan Merkle started out on a game show (on Deal Or No Deal) and now is the Princess of Sussex,” Luten said. “We are going to just go out and battle hard and all of them are going to have a wonderful experience.
“Making it to the state meet is a big thing for any high school athlete and something they will always remember. This is something special and they should be thrilled with the opportunity. It’s cool to be part of this.”
The Greyhounds return two of their starting six players from last year: seniors Angelo Vidal and Noah Brown. They play the top two spots in the order. Vidal, who will play tennis next year at Kenyon, is at No. 1.
“Angelo really wanted to play in college and he worked incredibly hard in the off season,” Luten said. “He is a ton better than he was last year and is a good No. 1 player.”
A pair of freshmen, Tomasz Lawrence and Manny Vidal, play at No. 3 and 4 respectively and have been key contributors. Sophomore Erik Tomasson and senior Peiyu Zhang, who played No. 7 last year, round out the lineup.
The Greyhounds face Springfield Catholic in the semifinals at 9 a.m. Thursday. The Fighting Irish, who are led by Jason Nayar and Luke Steiner, will be making their third consecutive appearance in the final four. They finished third last year, defeating Clayton 5-1 in the third-place match.
John Burroughs, which will be looking for its first state team title since 2004, enters the tournament as the favorite in Class 1. The Bombers are led by three-time individual medalist Ben Remis and a talented group of freshmen. They play defending state champion Pembroke Hill in the Class 1 semifinals. They defeated the Raiders 9-0 on April 28.
“We are taking nothing for granted,” John Burroughs coach Scott Sutter said. “They were without their top player (Nathan Turtledove) when we played them so none of the matchups will be the same. I think we are ready.”
Lindbergh and Parkway Central each return to the state semifinals in a Class 2 field in which Rock Bridge is the obvious favorite. This is the 17th consecutive semifinal appearance for the Bruins, who have won state the last two years.
Lindbergh will get the first shot at Rock Bridge as the two teams meet in Thursday’s semifinals. It will be a rematch of last year’s championship match, won by Rock Bridge 5-0.
The four teams in Class 2 are the same as last year. Parkway Central, which finished fourth last year, will play Rockhurst in the other Class 2 semifinal. They played for third place last year, with Rockhurst winning 5-0.
All semifinal matches are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Championship matches are scheduled for 1 p.m.