And it appears Barstow junior Bradley Frye is better than ever.
Frye, who did not play high school tennis as a sophomore after finishing second to his teammate Fletcher Scott in Class 1 singles as a freshman, did not lose a single game on Friday at the Missouri Class 1 boys’ state tennis tournament at the Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield.
Frye remained undefeated for the season after defeating John Lierz of Bishop LeBlond in the first round and Luke Steiner of Springfield Catholic in the quarterfinals.
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“I took a year off to work on my game, and it was a good decision,” said Frye. “But I love team sports and wanted to be a part of a team again. I thought we had a chance to be very good, and we came so close to winning a state championship as a team.”
Barstow lost to eventual Class 1 team champion Pembroke Hill, 5-4, in the district title in a match in which they had a pair of championship points.
“We were right there,” Frye said. “I think we were the second best team in the state in our division. I am definitely coming back next season. I think we will have a better chance to win as a team.”
Frye had a couple of quick matches Friday and has yet to lose a set this season.
“I am where I want to be right now,” Frye said. “The first match today I just tried to set the tone for the whole week. I was way more aggressive in the second match and was hitting my spots. My style is exactly the way it was as a freshman, but I feel I have a stronger game and more weapons.”
Frye will match up with Rohit Chouhan, the No. 1 singles player for Mary Institute-Country Day School, in the semifinals Saturday. The two played at state two years ago with Frye winning a convincing two-set match.
Frye has beaten Josh Bortnick, the No. 1 player for team state-champion Pembroke Hill, three times this season and they could see each other again in the championship match Saturday afternoon.
Bortnick, an Arkansas signee, won a pair of straight-set matches Friday. Bortnick defeated Jason Nayer of Springfield Catholic 6-3, 6-2 in the first round and Pablo Taboas of Clinton 6-3, 6-0 in the quarterfinals.
Bortnick will have a tough opponent in the semifinals in John Burroughs junior Ben Remis.
It was a great day overall for Pembroke Hill which also qualified both of its doubles teams to the semifinals. Nathan Turtledove and Garrett Kincaid had a tough three-set match against MICDS’ Robert Baisch and Johnny Keeley in the first round and then won decisively 6-1, 6-1 in the quarterfinals against Zach Potts and Eric Hahn of Dexter.
Pembroke Hill’s other doubles team of Thomas Thornton and Matthew Gernon won both of their matches in straight sets. Thornton and Gernon will meet Victor Djavaherian and Patrick Milburn of Priory in the semifinals. Turtledove and Kincaid will play Ethan Chanliongco and Adam Chanliongco of Springfield Catholic.
▪ In Class 2, Carson Gates of Staley cruised to the semifinals, losing just one game in his two matches. Gates, who finished second in singles last year, will face former state doubles champion Kenji Yanaba of Parkway West in the semifinals.
Rockhurst’s Collin Klumb and Henry Goeke played one of the longest matches of the day. Klumb and Goeke needed almost three hours to defeat Kavin Anand and Luke Bouchard of Columbia Rock Bridge, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6.
“They came out on fire,” Goeke said. “After losing that first set, we had a complete re-start. We had to go back to the basics of serving, first volley and receiving.”
Nerves were obvious in the fourth set which started with four breaks. Rock Bridge had three break points on Goeke’s serve at 5-5. But Rockhurst was able to win the game and dominate the tiebreaker.
All semifinal matches will be played at 9 a.m. with championship matches scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Cooper.