Mascoutah freshman Andy Graf and the Belleville East doubles team of Chase Stumne and Jacob Hamilton have been awarded the top seeds for the Belleville West boys tennis sectional tournament, which begins Friday at West and Belleville East High Schools.
One of the top-ranked junior players in the St. Louis area, Graf won the Mississippi Valley Conference Tournament last week and is looking at a possible a top 16 seed at the IHSA state tournament next week, should he add a sectional title to his list of accomplishments.
“I’m going to be pushing for that for him. I think the fact that he hasn’t played the schedule that a lot of the top players play, may hurt him. But Andy (Graf) did beat Chase (Stumne) in a third-set tiebreaker this year and Chase won the Southwestern Conference championship in singles. Andy is a very good young player,” Belleville East coach Dan Skaer said. “He doesn’t have a lot of power yet, but he’s an excellent baseline player and a player that just doesn’t make mistakes.”
East junior Kobi Phillips is the No 2 seed and will be one of four East entries seeded in the top six when competition begins at both East and West at 1 p.m. on Friday. All quarterfinals will be played at West late Friday afternoon.
The semifinals, championship and third-place matches will be played at West beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday. Sectionals are also being hosted by O’Fallon and Alton on Friday and Saturday.
The top four finishers in both singles and doubles from sectionals throughout the state will advance to the state tournament, May 28-30 in suburban Chicago.
Rounding out the top six seeds in singles are third-seeded Carlos Marascia of Mascoutah, No. 4 Jeff Murphy of Althoff, fifth-seeded Austin Klug of East and sixth-seeded Sam Calhoun of West.
While Graf being the top seed in singles may be a surprise to some, Stumne and Hamilton, were the obvious choice for the No. 1 seed in doubles. A top 12 finisher at state a year ago, the Lancers’ duo can all but clinch a top eight seed for the 2015 state finals with a championship this weekend.
“I think they’ll be a top-eight seed with an outside chance at a top four,” Skaer said of his doubles duo. “The sectional seeds were pretty easy to figure out. It went like I thought it would.”
West sophomores Drew Broyles and Derek Henke earned the No. 2 seed with Waterloo’s Grant Rodenberg and Charlie McGhee and Althoff’s Donovan McKnight and Devin Piper garnering the third and fourth seeds, respectively.
Clayton Baldus and Sam Kellow of East and Ian Burger and Nick Harry of West are seeded fifth and sixth.
The host O’Fallon Panthers appear to be the team to beat in what should be the most competitive of the three sectionals which are being held in the metro-east on Friday and Saturday.
O’Fallon placed third behind Edwardsville and East at the Southwestern Conference Tournament and is led by senior Neal Shekar, junior Riley Muren and highly touted freshman Dominic Macaluso.
Other teams competing at O’Fallon include Centralia, Greenville, Highland, Hillsboro, Mount Vernon, Salem and Triad
Fresh off an impressive win at the Southwestern Conference Tournament on Monday, the Tigers are heavy favorites to claim yet another sectional championship this weekend.
Southwestern Conference singles runner-up Eric Weiler and the doubles tandem of Alex Gray and Jonathan Koons, all of Edwardsville, figure to be the top seeds in their respective brackets.
Alton, Marquette, Roxana, Civic Memorial, Wood River, Jerseyville and Metro East Lutheran round out the field.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at email@example.com or 618-239-2661.