BELLEVILLE — Heading into the 2013 tennis season with his deepest team in recent years, Belleville East tennis coach Dan Skaer said the Lancers didn't have a clear cut No. 1 player.
Three weeks and 11 dual match wins later and appears that has now changed.
Sophomore Aaron Skaer rolled to a 6-2, 6-0 win over Althoff's Joey Bartholomew in a battle of elite players on Tuesday to help lead the Lancers to an easy 9-0 win over the Crusaders in a nonconference match.
For Skaer, whose older brother Ty was the Lancers No. 1 player the past three seasons, the win over Bartholomew was his second over an elite player in two days. Aaron Skaer also won against the No. 1 player from perennial Missouri state power Columbia Rock Bridge on Monday.
"I don't know what as gotten into Aaron. He's picked his game up in the last few days,'' Dan Skaer said about his son. "Joey (Bartholomew) had beaten him the last two or three times they had played over the summer and Aaron went out and handled him well today.
"In all fairness though, I'm not sure how much Althoff has played and we've played a very tough schedule, which also helps.''
Lucas Birk, Chase Stumne, Jacob Hamilton and Adam Youck also won in straight sets for East which wrapped up its annual city showdown with the Crusaders with an impressive effort in singles.
The only Lancer pushed into a third set on Tuesday was Zach Fields who defeated Austin Mueller 6-2, 1-6, 10-8.
"I've been very pleased at how we've played in singles so far. But we have a little work to do in doubles," Skaer said. "Zach (Fields) was pushed to three sets by Austin (Mueller) today, but again I think the fact that we've played in some close matches really helped him in the tiebreaker. Austin (Mueller), I thought played well.''
Another factor on Tuesday was the Lancers' experience. East had already played 13 dual matches this season, while Althoff, which falls to 2-3, has played just five.
"With the weather and some other things which have gone we just haven't been able to practice as much as we would have liked at this point in the season,'' Althoff coach Rusty Parker said. "In fact I think this is the second time all season we've had everybody together. We just haven't been on the court enough.
"On the positive side, I thought Austin (Mueller) played a very good match in taking Zach (Fields) to a third set tiebreaker. He (Fields) was a state qualifier last season.''
East wrapped up the match by sweeping the doubles as the combinations of Stumne and Hamilton (No. 1 doubles), Youck and Birk (No. 2) and Skaer and Fields (No.3) all posted straight set wins.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org