After a pair of easy victories over Lindbergh and Lafayette, the St. Louis U. High racquetball team aimed to close out the regular season on a high note against Parkway West last Friday and Kirkwood on Tuesday. Over the two sets of matches, the varsity squad posted eleven wins and three losses.
The No. 1 seed Will Shorey faced off against Adam Lancia from Parkway West to kick things off. Shorey has lost to Lancia twice this year, with one regular season match even going to three games. Unfortunately, Lancia continued his dominance over Shorey and beat him 15-9, 15-13. Lancia is the only player who has been able to beat Shorey consistently this season long, and with State next week he will be seeking revenge to come out on top as the champion of the No. 1 seed bracket.
After playing Lancia, Shorey claimed an easy win against Kirkwood, defeating Zach West 15-6, 15-10. His seeding in the tournament is still to be determined based on the outcome of CBC’s Jake Schmdt’s next game.
Max Telken, the No. 2 seed, defeated Tyler Yazdi from Parkway West 15-13, 15-2. After defeating Yazdi, Telken faced Sam Neunritter from Kirkwood. Despite defeating Neunritter in three games earlier in the season, Telken lost 4-15, 9-15 this time around. Despite the loss, Telken will finish as the No. 2 seed in his bracket as he looks to defeat CBC rival and No. 1 seed Gabe Collins in the state tournament.
Jared Thornberry had a very successful week as he started off with a strong win over Parkway West, defeating Ross Harter 15-6, 15-9. Thornberry credited his success to his successful return game.
“If I get a good serve return and play out the rally, that's when I succeed,” said Thornberry.
After defeating Harter, Thornberry defeated Jack Herwig from Kirkwood 15-11, 15-10. He lost to Herwing earlier this year and was proud of how he played against him. That match gave Thornberry the No. 1 seed in his state bracket.
“It puts a little comfort on my shoulders knowing that I beat everybody in my bracket for the state tournament,” stated Thornberry. “But it also puts a target on my back knowing that (my opponents) are going to really want to beat me”
Danny Phillips had very little trouble against fellow No. 4 seed Joe Layton from Parkway West in a decisive victory, 15-8, 15-2. Phillips acknowledged his mistakes in the first game was able capitalizing in the second
“He had some good kills off some setups in the first game,” said Phillips. “But in the second game I steamrolled him pretty quickly thanks to my serves.”
Phillips’ game against Ryan Sanner from Kirkwood was much more of a battle as the match went to three games before Phillips came out on top 10-15, 15-13, 11-8. Even after the win, Phillips was quick to point out the team's vulnerability compared to years past heading into the state tournament.
“For our team this year, especially after this Kirkwood match, I think a lot of us have realized that we are vulnerable where in years past we’ve had most of the games locked up,” said Phillips. “This is probably going to be one of the hardest fought state tournaments for us.”
No. 5 seed junior Nick Heinlein continued his season of complete domination by defeating Quincy Robbins from Parkway West 15-2, 15-4 and Chris Plants from Kirkwood 15-4, 15-12. Even though Heinlein is undefeated in the regular season, he reflected on what he could improve on before entering his bracket in state as the top seed.
“I could probably work on perfecting my ceiling balls a little bit, as well as my drive serves to both backhand and forehand,” critiqued Heinlein.
No. 6 seed Clark Martin defeated Sam Kallaos from Parkway West 15-10, 15-2. Similar to Heinlein, Martin has not had much trouble in any of his matches so far this season. However, against Kirkwood, Martin went to three games against Timmy Markee. Fortunately Martin won by scores of 14-15, 15-7, 11-3. Martin will also enter his bracket in state as the one seed as he looks to continue his perfect season.
The doubles team of Luke Dannegger and Max Adelman, too, had yet to lose a game all year heading into this week’s pairing of matches. Against Parkway West they inched by Joe Mahoney and Trenton Caton to win in three games 15-10, 14-15, 11-7. After they barely beat a Parkway West team that they were expected to dominate, the SLUH pair had to play the best opponents in their bracket from Kirkwood to finish out the year. Unfortunately, their perfect season ended as they fell to Tyler Kraichely and Tyler Whittington 12-15, 7-15. Due to the loss they will now enter the doubles bracket at state as the No. 2 seed behind Kirkwood’s team.
After a season full of ups and downs, it is finally time for the Jr. Bills to defend the racquetball state championship title for the third time in a row. The tournament lasts from Feb. 21 through Feb. 26 with times for the matches of each bracket still to be announced.
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