BELLEVILLE — The Belleville East Lancers will put a pair of streaks on the line beginning Friday, when they host the Belleville Invitational Tennis Tournament.
In the midst of another successful regular season, the Lancers will be out for their fourth tournament title in five weeks and third straight championship at their own event, when play begins at 2 p.m. with the doubles competition.
"Did I think we would be this successful? Yes. I saw how hard these kids worked during the summer and they have improved. And our depth. We've always got good depth,'' East coach Dan Skaer said. "This will be a good test for us this weekend. Especially at the top, there are four or five very strong teams with good individuals.''
In all 16 teams will compete in the two-day tournament which is being held at sites throughout the metro east. The doubles competition will be played Friday with singles set for Saturday, beginning at 8:30 a.m.
The host Lancers will have two teams in a field, which also includes Highland, O'Fallon, Chaminade (Mo.), Normal, Carbondale, Alton, Centralia, Edwardsville J-V, Peoria Richwoods, Granite City, Quincy, Effingham, (Quincy) Notre Dame and Belleville West.
Skaer thinks it will be a four-team race for the title.
"I think it will be Alton, Normal, Peoria Richwoods and us,'' Skaer said. "I know Carbondale has a foreign exchange student, who is an excellent player and will be the No. 1 seed in singles and Centralia's got the No. 2 seed in Ben Urshan, who won the sectional title a year ago.''
The Lancers have a top-seeded doubles combination of Jacob Hamilton and Chase Stumne, while the West duo of Cole Henke and Cole Lewis are seeded second.
The tournament is the start of a big week for East, which will host Edwardsville on Wednesday in a dual meet that will decide the Southwestern Conference regular-season championship.