The O’Fallon Township High School boys tennis team began the past week’s court action on a positive note; however, Mother Nature stepped in by the weekend, shortening their appearance in the Hill tournament in Bloomington.
The successful start came at the hands of Belleville Althoff as the Panthers steam-rolled to a 9-0 victory.
In singles play, the OTHS netters dominated their Crusader adversaries, winning six consecutive matches with five accomplished in straight sets. Dominic Macaluso, O’Fallon’s No. 1 singles player, survived the toughest challenge.
After winning the first set 6-3, the OTHS sophomore ran into a stiff challenge from Althoff’s Donovan McKnight, who took the second set 7-5. Forced into a third set tie-breaker, Macaluso returned to form, rallying with a strong serve and volley game to win 10-4.
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After Macaluso’s extended match, it was smooth sailing for the Panthers. Riley Muren, Shree Patel, Niko Papachrisanthou, Prem Patel and Quincy Dollison notched blasted their respective Althoff opponents. Papachrisanthou, Prem Patel and Dollison collected their singles victories without losing a game. Muren and Shree Patel were nearly as dominating, both winning 6-1 and 6-1.
In doubles play, O’Fallon kept the pressure on the Crusaders. Muren and Shree Patel teamed in No. 1 doubles to win 6-2 and 6-0 over Devin Piper and Paul Fries. Macaluso and Papachrisanthou blanked Galloway and Osthoff 6-0, 6-0 with Prem Patel and Quincy Dollison completing the O’Fallon shutout with a 6-0, 6-1 win over DelVecchio and Maine.
Flying high after the Althoff victory, the Panthers were brought back to earth in their next encounter. Facing off against the Edwardsville Tigers, the OTHS squad narrowly avoided being blanked.
Senior Prem Patel, playing No. 5 singles, was the only O’Fallon netter to register a victory in a disappointing afternoon. Patel dropped his first set to Edwardsville’s Luke Motley but rallied to send the match into a rubber set with a 6-4 second set win. In the third set, Patel held off several rallies by his Tiger opponent to secure a 10-6 victory, allowing O’Fallon to avoid a shutout.
On Friday, Coach Erin Thoman’s charges traveled to Bloomington to play in the highly competitive Hill Tournament.
Doubles play was scheduled for the first day of competition with singles set for Saturday.
Losses early in the tournament forced the OTHS doubles teams into consolation bracket competition where they were able to make amends for their early difficulties.
Muren and Patel finished in fifth place at No. 1 doubles, ending play at 3-1 with victories over Ottawa, Belleville East and Homewood-Flossmoor. Macaluso and Papachrisanthou teamed up at No. 2 and also placed fifth with a 3-1 tourney record.
The No. 2 OTHS team registered wins over Normal West, Homewood-Flossmoor and Triad. Prem Patel and Quincy Dollison, O’Fallon’s No. 3 team, battled to a 2-2 mark on the day with victories over Homewood-Flossmoor and Ottawa.
But torrential rains forced the cancellation of singles play on Saturday.