With a third straight Belleville city tennis title on the line Wednesday, the Belleville East Lancers broke out the brooms once again.
Freshman Christian Cowulich rebounded from a tough start to defeat Sam Calhoun of Belleville West in three sets to complete a Lancers’ sweep of the singles competition as Belleville East went on for an 8-1 win in a Southwestern Conference boys tennis match.
Less than a week after beating Althoff, the Lancers came out in top form against the Maroons.
Getting an easy 6-0, 6-1 victory from Chase Stumne over Maroons sophomore Drew Boyles, East won the first five singles matches in straight sets and when Cowulich wrapped up a 3-6, 6-4, 10-6 win over Calhoun, the Lancers had the match and the city championship put away.
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“It’s always nice to win the city title. But we have a lot of work to do if we are going to win the Southwestern Conference. We’ve got O’Fallon next week then Edwardsville the following week. Both teams are very good and we have some work to do yet,” Lancers coach Dan Skaer said. “Our 1 through 3 players — Stumne, Kobi Phillps and Jacob Hamilton — are very good, but after that our Nos. 4-to-11 players are pretty similar in skill level.
“West played us close in some of the (Nos.) 4-6 matches. But we were able to win a lot of the big points.’’
East also got wins from Phillips, Hamilton, Joseph Jones and Sam Kellow to go along with the victories turned in by Stumne and Cowulich and are are now 11-3 for the season. West falls to 4-5 in dual matches
While East is loaded in talent and experienced players, West is led by a pair of sophomores in Boyles and Derek Henke. But on this night, in singles, — the Maroons proved to be no match for the Lancers.
“We’re still learning and Belleville East is a very good team,’’ Maroons coach Andy Brunner said. “In (Nos.) 1-3 singles they have three quality players and 4-6 are also good.
‘I thought we played good tennis. There were a lot of close games where if we win a few of them and come up with big shots, who knows what can happen.’’
The Maroons only win of the night came in the No 2 doubles match, where Ian Burger and Nick Harry won in straight sets. East won the No. 3 doubles match when Todd Radil and Austin Klug defeated Jeff Kleinatis and Austin Quandt, 6-3, 6-3.
But the match of the night came in the No. 1 doubles flight, when Hamilton and Chase Stumne defeated Boyles and Henke 6-3, 6-2. The match score, although appearing lopsided, was well played by both teams. The Maroons duo more than held their own against the Lancers top duo, which placed in the top 12 at the IHSA State Tournament a year ago.
“I’m very pleased with how we came back in doubles. Sometimes when a match is decided before doubles, it can be easy to throw in the towel and not really play hard. But our kids didn’t do that,’’ Brunner said. “We came out and played very well against a doubles team which is one of the best around. That was great to see.’’
With the exception of Hamilton and Stumne, Skaer didn’t play his top doubles combinations against the Maroons.
“Take nothing away from the West kids, because they played well in doubles. But like I said before, we’re pretty balanced with our Nos. 4-11 players. I wanted to give some of the other kids a chance,’’ Skaer said. “One thing we need to work on is ending points more quickly. We need to be able to put shots away.’’