BELLEVILLE — Gibault High School senior Michael Lesko has worked long and hard to prove that he can compete with and win against the top tennis players in Southern Illinois.
On Friday, Lesko got a not-too-gentle reminder that there is still work ahead in order to win against the top players in the Midwest.
A Quincy University recruit, Lesko dropped a 6-2, 6-1 decision to Micah Cash of the Oklahoma Region in first round action at the United States Tennis Association Missouri Valley Section Boys 18 and Under January Super Championship.
Playing before a few family members and coaches at Kings Point Sports Club, Lesko had his moments in both sets. But the Hawks standout couldn't match the consistency of Cash.
After dropping the final four games in the first set, Lesko won the first game of the second set when Cash missed a volley attempt at the net.
That would be the final highlight of the day for Lesko, who then lost the final six games of the match.
"He (Cash) is a very good player and he kept the ball deep the entire match,'' Lesko said. "I didn't play as well as I needed to play, but to have an event like this in the area is great. ''
The loss dropped Lesko into the consolation bracket of the three-day elite 32-player tournament, which resumes at 9 a.m. Saturday with the doubles semifinals and finals.
The singles quarterfinals and semifinals are set for 2 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. Saturday, with the title match set for 9 a.m. Sunday.
Admission is free and spectators are welcome.
While Lesko dropped a lopsided decision, Edwardsville High School senior Jack Desse dropped a marathon 0-6, 7-6 (7-0), 13-11 match to Bradley Gleason of the Oklahoma Region in his first match.
Desse held an 11-10 lead in the third-set super tiebreaker before Gleason won the final three points to advance.
"It's a tough match to lose. A point here and a point there was the difference. He (Gleason) hit big shots on the big points,'' Desse said. "Obviously, I played very well in the first set, winning 6-0. But then he raised his level of play.''
A third local player -- Brandon Harris of Edwardsville -- had not played his first round match as of late Friday afternoon.
Teammates at Edwardsville High School, Desse and Harris did win both of their doubles matches to reach the semifinals.