EDWARDSVILLE — As Logan Ware and Jack Desse prepare for their freshman seasons as college student-athletes, they will carry fond memories of what they accomplished as members of the Edwardsville High School tennis program.
A doubles tandem for just two years, the Desse-Ware combination won back-to-back Southwestern Conference and sectional titles. This spring, the Tigers seniors won 33 of 38 matches and were a top-four seed in doubles for the IHSA boys state tournament.
Along with fellow seniors Zach Bryant and Brandon Harris, the Tigers posted a school-record third straight top 10 state finish, placing eighth in the competition held in suburban Chicago in May.
The Tigers had finished ninth and sixth the previous two years.
But were their senior seasons everything Ware and Desse hoped they would be?
Not quite and not even with a second-straight top 12 finish state doubles finish.
"In a way, the season was everything I hoped it would be because we played some really good tennis all through the year,'' Ware said. "I kind of wish it would have had a better finish and that we had played a little better at the state tournament.
"But overall it was a good year.''
It was a very good year for the top doubles team in the Southwestern Conference, which capped its outstanding four-year career by reaching the state quarterfinals.
Despite dropping a 6-2, 6-3 decision to Corey Schwartz and Alex Galoustian of (Winnetka) New Trier in the quarterfinals, Ware and Desse finished 4-2 at state.
For their accomplishments, Desse and Ware have been chosen as the Belleville News-Democrat High Scbool Boys Tennis Players of the Year.
Desse, who will play college tennis and major in pre-dentistry at SIU-Edwardsville, was a four-year starter and a three-time state qualifier.
After advancing to state in singles as a sophomore, Desse teamed with Ware for the past two years to form one of the state's elite combinations.
"I played a lot of singles, but I was familiar with doubles as well when I got to high school," Desse said. "Coming through (Edwardsville) Coach (Dave ) Lipe's summer (tennis) camps and playing tournaments, he made sure we were well-rounded players and could play both. Logan and I played together in doubles last year then we played some tournaments together in the summer. I really think were a better doubles team this year.
"Our goal was to win the state championship. We just came up a little short at the state tournament."
While Desse will play at SIUE, Ware is bound for McKendree University, where he will play tennis and work toward a degree in physical therapy.
Ware and Desse, both excelled on and off the court at EHS according to coach Dave Lipe.
"Jack and Logan had incredible careers and they had terrific on and off the court success during their time at Edwardsville High School,'' Lipe said. "Their leadership and athleticism will be missed next year.''
Ware and Desse were the complete double teams this past season.
Both solid all-round players who were among the top four in the Tigers' singles lineup, Ware and Desse possessed good serves and groundstrokes as well as other different strengths as doubles players.
"Jack has so many weapons as a tennis player. He's got a great serve, he has the ability to put points away from either side, he volleys well and he's a great competitor,'' Ware said. "I would say we were a better doubles team this year. Our chemistry was better and I think the fact that coach (Lipe) took the team all over to play the best competition we could find really makes us a better team.
"It can be a little humbling at times. But it does help prepare us for what we'll see at the state finals.''
Seeded in the 9-16 group for the 2014 state finals, Ware and Desse weren't surprised they were a 3-4 seed when the first-round pairings were announced three days before the tournament began.
"I think that was about right,'' Desse said. "Our goal was to win the state title and obviously people thought that as a possibility.
"We had a tough draw. The Hinsdale Central team that we beat earlier in the season was in another quarterfinal, so if we played them we might have won and been in the semifinals. Once you are in the semifinals ... who knows. It wasn't meant to happen.''