There was an obvious buzz throughout the Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield during day one of the Missouri boys state tennis individual tournament Friday.
Everyone seemed to congregate at Court 3 as Parkway South’s Carson Haskins, the No. 1 player nationally in the boys 16 division and a player who has yet to lose a set in two years of high school tennis, was being challenged by Liberty freshman Owen Mulcahy in a Class 2 quarterfinal match.
Mulcahy more than held his own against Haskins, who recently won the prestigious Easter Bowl Tournament in Indian Wells, Calif.
It was a typical first set for Haskins, who won it 6-1. But Mulcahy made him work to keep his unbeaten set streak intact.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Mulcahy actually had a 4-3 lead in the second set before Haskins came back to win the next two games and was serving for the match at 5-4.
Mulcahy got the break to even the set at 5-5 and had a 30-0 lead on his serve but Haskins showed why he is the first top-ranked player in the St. Louis area since Jimmy Connors. Haskins won the final eight points of the match, closing with an ace to win 6-1, 7-5.
“I was aware of his rankings and his recent success,” Mulcahy said. “I saw the draws and realized that I would likely face him in the second round. I just took the attitude that I had nothing to lose. Nobody was expecting me to win. I just wanted to give it all I had.”
Mulcahy certainly did that. He may not have won the match but he won over a great amount of fans. One of Haskins’ relatives came up to him after the match with congratulations on a great effort.
“It’s nice to have a bunch of new fans,” Mulcahy said. “Haskins is probably the best player I have ever faced and I was able to play the best tennis I have played in a long time.”
Another Carson, Staley sophomore Carson Gates, hopes to get his chance to play Haskins on Saturday.
Gates remained undefeated with a pair of impressive wins Friday. He needed a third-set super tiebreaker to defeat A.J. Goodman of Christian Brothers 3-6, 6-3 (10-7) and then defeated Rock Bridge freshman Jake Frauerfelder 6-0, 6-1 in the quarterfinals.
Gates will play another freshman, Reid Jarvis of Springfield Glendale, in the semifinals. Jarvis is undefeated with a 31-0 record.
In Class 2 doubles, Rockhurst was able to get a doubles team to the semifinals. Justin Nogalski and Collin Klumb defeated Rock Bridge’s Kamran Farid and Brian Baker 7-5, 6-2 in the quarterfinals match. The Hawklets team will take on Aaron Umen and Aidan Miller of Ladue in the semifinals.
Pembroke Hill’s Josh Bortnick was one of the most impressive players of the day Friday. He lost only one game in his first two matches, including a 6-1, 6-0 win over John Burroughs senior Zale Shah. Bortnick had defeated Shah in three sets in the team competition Thursday.
Bortnick will face Tyler Raclin of Mary Institute Country Day in the semifinals.
Pembroke Hill also qualified a doubles team for Saturday’s semifinals. Cormac Chester and Tripp Dearborn won a pair of matches in straight sets and will face Robert Baisch and David Grossman in the semifinals.
Barstow players were involved in two of the more interesting matches of the day.
Freshman Demic Capan played in the longest match of the day, almost four hours, before falling to Steven Mears of St. Joseph Bishop LeBlond.
Barstow’s doubles team of Brian King and Cheng Gong won their first match without losing a game but fell in the quarterfinals to James Ethridge and Jack Gold of Logan-Rogersville 6-3, 1-6 (11-9).
The semifinals in both classes will be played Saturday at 9 a.m. with championship matches scheduled for 1 p.m.