SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Thomas Jefferson Cavaliers had medalists in both singles and doubles at the MSHSAA Class 2 state boys tennis tournament on Friday at the Cooper Tennis Complex.
Thomas Jefferson’s Ian Ding finished fourth in the singles bracket.
“It feels good and I’m proud of what I did,” Ding said. “I was one match away from finishing in the top eight my freshman year, so I was just glad I was able to make it to the second day this year. I think I played pretty well overall, and there are still a few things I can clean up before next week.”
A junior, Ding went 2-0 on Thursday to advance to the bracket’s semifinals.
On Friday morning, and with a spot in the state championship match on the line, Ladue’s Max Chen defeated Ding 6-1, 6-2. Chen went on to win the state title.
In the third-place match, Ladue’s Amit Kadan topped Ding 6-4, 0-6, 10-3.
“Fourth place is great,” Thomas Jefferson coach Tom Brumfield said. “If you told me before the tournament that he’d have a chance to be fourth, I’d be excited for that. I’d take that any time.”
In the first round on Thursday, Ding defeated Parkway Central’s Ayush Negi 6-1, 6-1.
In the quarterfinals, Ding beat Branson’s Gavin Brown 6-2, 6-0.
Brumfield noted Ding has put together a stellar season.
“Ian was here two years ago and then we didn’t get to play last year,” Brumfield said. “Ian has taken a big step forward. His maturity and level of play has really increased. He did a great job. He’s really improved on everything. He’s worked hard on all parts of his game. Hopefully this year is a stepping stone for him.”
Of course, Ding still has another year of high school tennis ahead.
“This experience will really help me next year,” Ding noted. “Hopefully next year I’ll be able to do better than fourth place.”
Thomas Jefferson’s duo of Noah Hamlett and Tyler Brouhard finished sixth in the doubles bracket.
After going 2-1 on Thursday, Hamlett and Brouhard defeated Grain Valley’s Carter Compton-Kade Compton 6-2, 6-1 on Friday morning in the consolation semifinals.
In the fifth-place match, Ladue’s Mason Chyu-Weston Williams edged the Cavaliers 7-5, 6-7 (6), 10-6 in a back and forth contest.
“I thought those guys did great,” Brumfield said. “I’m proud of them. That’s a great finish. They had a chance to win their last match. It was a tough match. But after they lost their first match on Thursday, I thought they rebounded well.”
In the first round, the Cavaliers suffered a 6-1, 6-0 loss to Priory’s Sean Finnie and Christian Djavaherian, a duo that went on to win the state championship.
Hamlett and Brouhard bounced back by beating St. Pius X’s Paul Borrego and Blake Dobey 6-1, 6-2.
In the consolation quarterfinals, in a win or go home situation, Hamlett-Brouhard beat Helias Catholic’s Justin Francka and Andrew Dowden 6-3, 6-2.
Of course, the Cavaliers previously competed in Class 1, but TJ was bumped up to Class 2 this season due to MSHSAA’s non-public school “championship factor” based on a program’s past success.
It’s safe to say the Cavaliers showed they can compete in Class 2, as they had medalists in both brackets.
The season isn’t over for the Cavaliers.
Thomas Jefferson’s full squad will return to Cooper Tennis Complex next Friday for the state team tournament. The Cavaliers face Branson at noon in the Class 2 semifinals. The other semifinal features Ladue vs. Priory.
“We’re excited for next week,” Ding said. “We’re excited to prove that we belong here, especially in Class 2.”