SPRINGFIELD — It was the worst of times and the best of times Friday for Park Hill South’s Zack Royle and Jim Geary in their Class 2 quarterfinals doubles match Friday at the 2013 Missouri state boys tennis tournament at the Cooper Tennis Complex.
By BILL HESTER
Special to The Star
Royle and Geary, who had won their first-round match Friday morning 6-2, 6-2 against Kevin Henschel and Giel Jan Vandeborne of Vianney, found themselves in a big hole after falling in the first set of their quarterfinal match 1-6 against Franklin Zhong and Aaron Cunningham of Lee’s Summit West.
Royle credited head coach Ian Cunliff with helping to turn things around.
“He talked to us after the first set and calmed us down,” said Royle, who was a state singles qualifier last year. “He told us to stop worrying about the result and play the process. He said to enjoy playing in the state meet with your best friend.”
Royle and Geary continued to struggle early in the second set as they lost the first two games. But they rebounded in a big way the rest of the way, winning 12 of the final 13 games in a 1-6, 6-3, 6-0 triumph. They are thus assured of a state medal as they prepare for a Saturday semifinal against Alex Jones and William Swift of Rock Bridge.
“I’m kind of glad that Coach just talked to us about the mental part of the game,” Royle said. “We were able to keep our confidence in our strokes.”
Royle and Geary have played doubles together the last couple of years but admitted they had no clue on whether they would be successful at the state meet.
“We knew that everybody here had success and knew how to win,” Royle said. “We felt if we played our best, we could make a run at it.”
Rockhurst also qualified a team in the Class 2 doubles semifinals as John Nogalski Jr. and Jacob Moore lost just four games in two wins Friday. They will meet another Rock Bridge team, Rohit Rao and Jacob Winton in the semifinals.
Those two doubles teams are the only Kansas City-area teams still alive after a rough first day of the individual tournament.
Rockhurst’s No. 1 singles player, Alex Koca, who had won the clinching match in the Hawklets’ Class 2 team championship Thursday, had to withdraw from the Class 2 singles bracket because of a possible abdominal strain.
“He went out and hit some balls this morning and was OK, but he could not serve,” Rockhurst coach Zach Fritsch said.
Koca’s teammate Jack Evans, who had injured his ankle Friday while playing basketball, was able to make it through two matches Friday but then had to default in his third match. Fritsch said that Evans was probably playing at 60 to 70 percent yet still won his first-round match against Richard Perry of Carthage 6-2, 6-0. He fell in the quarterfinals to Micah Klousia of Springfield Glendale 6-0, 6-0.
The area’s top threat in Class 1 singles, Chandler McCray of Pembroke Hill, did not make it through the first set of his opening-round match against Joey Dulle of Clayton. McCray, a senior who came into the state tournament with an undefeated record, was losing to Dulle, a defending Class 1 doubles champion, 5-3, when he had to retire.
Pembroke Hill’s Tristan Threatt had a tough first-round draw, falling to Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School freshman Joey McAllister 6-3, 6-0.
Barstow had a singles player and doubles team that each won in the first round. Steven Metchmark defeated Christopher O’Connor of Warrensburg 6-4, 6-1 in the first round before falling to Dulle 6-1, 6-1 in the quarterfinals. Sohit Bhagat and Ben Abbas defeated Wade Dietz and Phillip Reeter of Chillicothe 6-2, 7-6 in the first round before falling in the semifinals to Bailey Merkel and Derek Bell of Westminster Christian 6-1, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
The semifinals are scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday at Cooper Tennis Complex. Championship matches are scheduled for 1 p.m.