Alex Koca, Rockhurst’s No. 1 singles player, underwent an emergency appendectomy Friday night at the Cox Medical Center, robbing him of the chance to compete for a Class 2 singles title.
By BILL HESTER
Special to The Star
On Saturday, Koca, who won the deciding match in the tournament’s team portion Thursday, attended the Class 2 doubles championship match featuring his teammates John Nogalski Jr. and Jacob Moore.
Knowing Koca was watching, they dispatched Park Hill South’s Zack Royle and Jim Geary 6-1, 7-5 in an all-Kansas City championship game at the Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield.
"We wanted to win it for the team and ourselves but also for Alex," Nogalski Jr. said. "We know how much he wanted to play singles."
The win capped off an undefeated season in doubles for Nogalski Jr., who finished fourth in singles at state last year, and Moore, who was an alternate on the state team prior to this year.
"We had success during the year so we knew that we could do it," Nogalski Jr. said. "We had played them (Royle and Geary) in districts and beaten them but we knew they were good. We needed to play smart doubles and I felt we did a good job of that and we did a good job of getting our first serves in."
Nogalski and Moore had reached the finals with a 7-5, 6-1 win in the semifinals over Rohit Rao and Jacob Winton of Rock Bridge.
"I said all year that these guys play annoying high percentage tennis," Rockhurst coach Zach Fritsch said. "It is really tough to crack their shell. They are both long and do a good job of getting to the net and covering ground. They complement each other well and that shows in that they have not lost year. They earned this championship and they deserve it."
It was also an impressive run to the championship for Royle and Geary. They won a hard-fought semifinal match Saturday morning against Alex Jones and William Swift of Rock Bridge, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1. Jones and Swift are the top two singles players on a Rock Bridge team which lost to Rockhurst in the Class 2 finals of the team tournament.
There were no other area players in championship matches Saturday. But there was another Kansas City battle Saturday for the consolation Class 1 doubles championship. Barstow's Sohil Bhagat and Ben Abbas defeated Daniel Han and Noah Bortnick of Pembroke Hill, 6-3, 6-1 to claim fifth place.
Pembroke Hill junior Tristan Threatt earned a sixth place medal in Class 1 singles. Threatt clinched the medal with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Jarod Davis of Mount Vernon in the consolation semifinal Saturday morning but then fell in the consolation championship to Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School freshman Joey McAllister, 6-2, 6-1.
Clayton junior Mac Rechan capped off an undefeated season with a championship in Class 1 singles. He defeated teammate Joey Dulle in straight sets in the finals.
Joplin's Jeremy Lynn needed three sets to capture the Class 2 singles title over Dylan Steffens of Rockwood Summit.
Westminster Christian's Bailey Merkel and Derek Bell won the Class 1 doubles title.