SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — In the grand finale of a stellar prep tennis career, Thomas Jefferson senior Ian Ding went out with a win.
Ding and Tyler Brouhard finished third in the Class 2 doubles bracket at the MSHSAA Boys Tennis Championships on Friday at the Cooper Tennis Complex.
In the third-place match, the Cavaliers defeated Parkway West’s Kai Daudsyah and Winston Gao in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1, to conclude the 2022 season on a high note.
“I’m really happy with how we finished the season,” Ding said. “Coming in, I didn’t know if we’d even make it to the Final Four. Coming away with third place is amazing. It’s nice I was able to end my career with a win. I think this is a great accomplishment, so I’m just really happy with how we ended things.”
“It’s been a great tournament for us,” Cavaliers coach Tom Brumfield said. “We had high expectations, but you never know who you’re going to play until you get here. And there’s no easy rounds at state. It’s not like you can play bad and get by. Our doubles team did an awesome job. They played well overall. The wind picked up today and made it challenging for both sides, but our guys did a great job.”
In Thursday’s opening round, Ding and Brouhard defeated Branson’s Garrett Beckham-Nathan Bartram 6-1, 6-4. In the quarterfinals, Ding and Brouhard beat Grain Valley’s Carter Compton-Kade Compton 6-3, 6-3.
After going 2-0 on Thursday, the Cavaliers met Ladue’s Brian Tokarczyk and Amit Kadan in Friday morning’s semifinals. The Ladue duo topped Ding-Brouhard in three sets, 6-4, 3-6, 10-4.
Brumfield noted the hard-fought match could have gone either way.
“They were right there with a chance to go to the finals,” Brumfield noted. “They were close. They made a few mistakes in the tie-breaker.”
With that loss, the Cavaliers headed to the third-place match, where they were in control from the start.
The Cavs limited their mistakes while taking advantage of their opponents’ miscues.
“I think we played really well,” Brouhard said. “We’ve been training all year for this. We stayed consistent on the court. We got our serves in and our net play was very good. Third place is great.”
As a doubles team, Ding and Brouhard only dropped three matches all season while winning nearly 30 contests.
“Tyler and I played well together all season,” Ding said. “I think we have good chemistry. We know what the other person is going to do. Today, we played steady and tried not to give away too many free points.”
While Ding’s prep career has come to an end, Brouhard is just a junior. He noted this year’s state showing will provide extra motivation for next spring.
“It’s definitely a confidence boost for me and I’m definitely going to train in the offseason,” Brouhard said. “Hopefully I’ll improve and be back here next year.”
Brumfield added he was pleased with the performance of Thomas Jefferson sophomore Prithvi Nagarajan, who went 1-2 in singles on Thursday.
“Prithvi was in every match he played, which was great to see,” Brumfield said. “He won a match at state as a sophomore. He did a great job.”
Ding and Hari Nagarajan were the team’s lone seniors this season.
The Cavaliers will return a solid core next season, as Brouhard, Prithvi Nagarajan, sophomores Chengle Qian and Devan Murali and freshman Jack Goodhue will all return with varsity experience.
“Tyler’s game is looking better all the time, so next year we’ll need him to step up and be a leader,” Brumfield said. “I’m really proud of Tyler for playing the way he did here at state.”
A STELLAR PREP CAREER
The left-handed Ding established himself as one of the region’s top players during his freshman season, as he displayed a solid overall game from the start.
He qualified for state in singles as a freshman, advancing to the quarterfinals before falling to the eventual state champion.
Of course, Ding missed out on a sophomore campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As a junior, Ding finished fourth in the singles bracket at state. Ding also played a key role as the Cavaliers went 15-1 in duals and earned a runner-up finish at last year’s Class 2 state team tournament.
This year’s Thomas Jefferson squad went 13-3 in dual matches.
Ding, also a standout student at TJ, added a third-place showing at state to his tennis resume.
“A lot of great memories,” Ding said of his high school tennis career. “Obviously, I missed a whole year in 2020. The three years I had with Coach Brumfield and the team were really amazing. I had great teammates and a great coach. It’s a little bittersweet right now.”
As far as his future plans, Ding said he’ll be attending Boston University to major in computer science. Ding added he hopes to play on the university’s club tennis team.
In the moments following the Cavs’ season-ending victory, Brumfield took a moment to reflect on Ding’s standout prep career.
To Brumfield, there’s no doubt Ding left his mark on the TJ tennis program.
“Ian got robbed of a sophomore season,” Brumfield said. “I think if he would have gotten to play as a sophomore he might be way up there all-time in wins at TJ, counting singles and doubles. Ian’s had a great career…really something special. And I just told him there’s not many people that finish their careers with a win at state. He did.”
FULL RESULTS: 2022BoysTennisSinglesDoubles – Google Drive