BELLEVILLE — In the long and never dull tennis rivalry between Belleville West and Belleville East there have been many years when the outcome hinged on one final volley at the net as darkness fell.
On Wednesday a 9-0 win by Belleville East didn't take nearly as long.
Senior Aaron Skaer rallied past Maroons senior Cole Henke for a three-set win to lead the way as the Lancers clinched a third straight Belleville City tennis title with the shutout victory.
Displaying a solid baseline game with the pinpoint accuracy at the net, Henke took the first set 7-5, before Skaer rebounded to tie the match.
Skaer then won the 10-point tiebreaker to clinch a 5-7, 6-1, 10-6 triumph.
"Cole (Henke) is a very good player and I told Aaron before the match that he couldn't take him lightly. A senior playing in his last East-West match, we knew he would be fired up and ready to play,'' Lancers coach Dan Skaer said. "I thought Aaron played well in the second set and tiebreaker."
Henke was the only Maroons player to win a set in singles as East (17-2) lost just 11 games in the remaining five matches to take an insurmountable 6-0 lead heading into the doubles competition.
"This is nice. It's great to be the city champions,'' Dan Skaer said. "There have been times over the years when they (West) have beaten us 9-0. It's nice to be able to turn it around for a change."
Sophomore Kobi Phillips edged Maroons senior Cole Lewis 6-2, 6-0 in the No. 2 singles flight while Chase Stumne, Jacob Hamilton, Spencer Smith and Joseph Jones also won their divisions.
West (3-3), meanwhile, just couldn't match the Lancers depth.
"They (East) are very good and they are very deep across the board. The scores don't indicate it, but I thought we played well in spots,'' Maroons coach Andy Brunner said. "Cole (Henke) played very well in singles and he and Cole Lewis played very well in doubles as well. We just couldn't finish.''
Things didn't change much in doubles
In a battle of potential top 16 seeds for the IHSA State Tennis Tournament next month, East juniors Chase Stumne and Jacob Hamilton defeated Lewis and Henke 1-6, 6-1, 10-6 in the No. 1 doubles match.
"I'm not sure if they are both top 16 seeds, but there is no doubt in my mind that both those doubles teams are in the top 32 in the state," Skaer said. "There was some very high level tennis being played their by both teams. We ere just fortunate to win the match."
Nick Spitze and Spencer Smith won the No. 2 doubles match for the Lancers' Aaron Skaer and Joseph Jones won the No. 3 doubles match.
Brunner, a former Belleville East standout, still saw some positives despite the one-sided setback.
"As a coach you always try to look for the positives. For one, this kind of effort from Belleville East shows the strength of the Southwestern Conference," Brunner said. "We also leave here tonight knowing that we can and will play better the next time we see them (East).
"We'll see them at Moline this weekend and we'll see them next week at the Belleville East Tournament. We'll see them at another four of five tournaments before the season is over.''
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or email@example.com