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St. Louis area tennis players swept the six individual singles and doubles championships at last weekend’s individual phase of the Missouri’s boys tennis state tournament.
But it was a team from Kansas City which was dominant in taking the first of the three team titles Friday at Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield.
Pembroke Hill defended its Class 3 championship without losing a court against a pair of St. Louis powers. The Raiders defeated Marquette 5-0 in the semifinals and John Burroughs by the same score in the championship match.
Pembroke, which finished the season undefeated against teams from Missouri, took control of both matches by sweeping the three doubles courts.
“We needed to win at least one doubles court,” Marquette coach Alex Nelle said. “If we could have done that, I felt we had a shot in singles. We knew coming in that they were very good. They were the defending champ and the favorite. You can’t make mistakes against a great team like them and unfortunately we did.”
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It took over two hours, but the Raiders kept their perfect day alive in the championship match against John Burroughs.
“This certainly didn’t feel like a 5-0 match,” Pembroke Hill coach Scott Hanover said. “It seemed like more of a 5-3 match. I have so much respect for John Burroughs. They are true competitors. It is tough to defend a state championship. I thought our guys handled the moment well.”
Bombers freshman Shaan Patel, who won the Class 3 singles title last week, kept his perfect record intact. But not without some drama and a big challenge.
Patel had a 5-2 lead in the first set over Trey Lambright at No. 1 singles. Lambright, a senior who is going to Case Western Reserve University, won the final five games to take the first set. He eventually won seven games in a row and led 5-3 in the second set. Patel was able to avoid defeat by taking the next two games to even the set at 5-5. The match was stopped at that point when the Raiders won the clinching fifth court.
“The score might not show it, but we showed a lot of fight on the court,” said John Burroughs coach Anne Sutter, whose team defeated Springfield Central 5-0 in the semifinals Friday morning. “Pembroke has a good program and they are good up and down the lineup. I am proud of all my guys. They fought hard all year.”
Grant Dahl was a senior captain for the Bombers along with Kathan Palagiri and Udaykiran Vissa. Dahl, who is headed to Johns Hopkins University, was on a state championship team when he was a sophomore.
“I have so many good memories playing high school tennis,” Dahl said. “I thought we played our hearts out and left it all on the court today.”
Marquette finished its season with a win, defeating Springfield Central 5-0 in the third-place match. The Mustangs swept doubles and got straight-set wins in singles from Aadit Keswani at No. 3 and Rohan Devraj at No. 5.
Clayton put itself in position for its first boys team title with a 5-1 win over Savannah. The Greyhounds won two of the three doubles matches and got straight-set wins in singles from Ismael Robles-Razzaq (No. 3), Dade Deaver (No. 4) and Joe Major (No. 5).
Clayton will face Bolivar in the Class 1 championship at noon Saturday. Bolivar defeated Duchesne 5-2 in the other Class 1 semifinal. The highlight for the Pioneers was the play of No. 1 player, Tommy Griese.
Griese played 21 games Saturday. He won 20 of them. Griese teamed with Joseph Feigenblatt to win 8-1 at No. 1 doubles and then defeated Cy Douglas, 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 singles.
Ladue will look to defend its Class 2 team title Saturday. The Rams will face Barstow in one semifinal while Cape Notre Dame will play Helias in the other. Those matches will be played at 9 a.m. The Class 2 championship is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday.