The Thomas Jefferson boys tennis team is off to a stellar start to the 2021 season.
After winning five straight duals by lopsided 9-0 scores to begin the spring, the host Cavaliers continued their winning ways by capturing the team championship at Friday’s Thomas Jefferson Invitational.
Competing against much-larger schools, Thomas Jefferson crowned champions at No. 1 singles, No. 1 doubles and No. 2 doubles. The Cavaliers settled for second at No. 2 singles.
“Because we weren’t able to compete last year, it’s been a couple of years for these guys, so it was nice to see them be able to do that today,” Thomas Jefferson coach Tom Brumfield said at the conclusion of the event. “We had some guys coming back that we knew would be solid and we’ve had some younger guys step up, too. It’s one of those situations…you just don’t know, but I’m not surprised. You feel like you’re going to be OK, but you don’t know for sure until you see it happen.”
The Cavaliers finished with 25 points, while Webb City had 20 points to finish second and Carthage had 10 to place third. After the top three teams, Monett (7.5), Carl Junction (7), Mount Vernon (4), Joplin (3) and Aurora (0.5) rounded out the field.
In 2019, Thomas Jefferson finished fourth in Class 1.
Brumfield said his squad has its goals set high again this year.
“The goals are high, but we’ve got some young kids and sometimes you don’t know what to expect from them when they’re on the court,” Brumfield said.
Brumfield added his players have put in the time and effort in order to have a successful season.
“Tennis is too hard to be a seasonal sport,” Brumfield added. “You have to put the time in. These guys have been playing away from the spring season and that makes a big difference. This group has worked all year long for this season. They’ve been playing from the summer, fall and winter. That really helps them by the time spring comes around. They’ve jumped right into it.”
Friday’s doubles matches were held at Thomas Jefferson, while the singles matches were contested at Millennium Family Fitness.
NO. 1 SINGLES
Thomas Jefferson’s Ian Ding cruised to the invite’s singles championship, winning all three of his matches by 8-0 scores.
“Ian has really improved his game by working hard,” Brumfield said. “He’s doing a lot of good things right now. We knew Ian was going to be solid this year.”
Ding defeated Joplin’s Hunter Merkley in the first round before beating Carthage’s Silas Smith in the semifinals. In the bracket’s title match, Ding defeated Webb City’s Trenton Hayes.
In other first round matches, Smith defeated Aurora’s Xane Shirley 8-2, Hayes beat Mount Vernon’s Curtis Meyer 8-1 and Monett’s Dylan Lynch topped Carl Junction’s Blaine Wilkerson 8-4.
Hayes beat Lynch 8-3 in the semifinals before falling to Ding in the championship match.
Smith defeated Monett’s Lynch in the third-place match, while Wilkerson defeated Shirley for fifth place.
NO. 2 SINGLES
Webb City’s Cale Stephens defeated Thomas Jefferson’s Christopher Wheelen 8-2 in the championship match of the No. 2 singles bracket.
Stephens beat Aurora’s Angel Cruz 8-1 and Monett’s Ben Hoyt 8-1 en route to the title match.
In other first-round matches, Hoyt beat Joplin’s Michael Mancipe 8-3, Carthage’s Colby Tandy defeated Mount Vernon’s Isaac Burks 8-2 and Wheelen topped Carl Junction’s Cade Wilkerson 8-3.
Wheelen defeated Tandy 8-2 in the semifinals.
Hoyt won the third-place match 8-5 over Tandy. In the consolation final, Wilkerson defeated Mancipe 8-0.
NO. 1 DOUBLES
Thomas Jefferson’s Noah Hamlett and Tyler Brouhard won the doubles bracket.
“For our doubles team, it was nice to see that they had some pressure put on them,” Brumfield said. “Sometimes you don’t know what to expect when you throw them into a pressure situation. I was proud of them. They both displayed leadership and played well.”
Hamlett-Brouhard defeated Carl Junction’s Connor Sztamenits-Easton Sztamenits 8-0 in the first round and then beat Monett’s Angel Salas-Ethan Kutz 8-0 in the semifinals. In the title match, the Cavaliers handled Webb City’s Jackson Dill-Drake Miller 8-1.
In the first round, Monett’s Salas-Kutz edged Aurora’s Noah Pruett-James Rogers 9-7, Carthage’s Charlie Snow-Ryan Phillips beat Mount Vernon’s Chase Strong-Isaac Barker 8-2 and Webb City’s Dill-Miller edged Joplin’s Logan Merkley-Jeffrey Evenson 9-7.
Dill-Miller defeated Snow-Phillips 8-5 in the semifinals before falling to the Cavs in the title match.
Snow-Phillips took third by beating Salas-Kutz 8-2, while Strong-Barker won the consolation final 8-2 over Carl Junction.
NO. 2 DOUBLES
Thomas Jefferson’s duo of Hari Nagarajan and Prithvi Nagarajan won the No. 2 doubles bracket.
The Cavs beat Monett’s Heisman Welch-Jackson Young 8-2, Joplin’s Ben Wardlow-Colin Vermillion 8-0 and then topped Webb City’s Caiden Johnson-Tyler Wade 8-0 in the title match.
In first-round matches, Joplin’s Wardlow-Vermillion beat Carthage’s Dani Lopez-Tyler Howard 8-4, Carl Junction’s Joe Figueroa-Jordan Markham defeated Mount Vernon’s Justin Moore-Alvin Reid 9-8 (7-4) and Johnson-Wade beat Aurora’s Dalton Hess-Lorenz Junge 8-2.
Johnson-Wade edged Figueroa-Markham 8-6 in the semifinals.
The Bulldogs took third place by beating Wardlow-Vermillion 8-5. Moore-Reid beat Lopez-Howard 8-4 for fifth place.