Hitting on all cylinders, the O’Fallon High boys’ tennis team blasted their way to their second consecutive sectional tournament championship last weekend.
Coach Erin Thoman enjoyed superior efforts from every Panther who stepped onto the court as all six OTHS players earned spots in the IHSA state finals which will begin today (Thursday) in Chicago.
“Our players were awesome,” Thoman said after her squad collected the sectional hardware.
Our players were awesome,” Thoman said after her squad collected the sectional hardware.
OTHS Coach Erin Thoman said
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“From the preliminary rounds all the way through the title matches, our boys were focused. They had few unforced errors in any of the games and kept the pressure on their opponents with strong serve and volley games as well as dominating play at the net.” Host Triad offered the biggest challenge for the Panthers, finishing second with 19 team points; however, the OTHS squad didn’t give the Knights — or the rest of the sectional field – much of a window of opportunity,” she added.
Super sophomore Dominic Macaluso paced the Panther attack, winning the sectional singles championship with four consecutive straight set victories. Macaluso opened the tourney with a 6-0, 6-0 triumph over Freeman of Flora and duplicated the dominating effort with a win over Baubitz of Highland without losing a game.
He faced a pair of Triad opponents in the semi-final and championship rounds but had little trouble establishing himself in both matches, winning 6-2 and 6-1 over Parsons and collecting the title with a win over Grigg by the identical score.
Senior captains Riley Muren and Shree Patel joined forces in doubles play to equal the performance of Macaluso. The Panther duo blasted their way to easy wins in the first two rounds of play without losing a game. After jumping ahead of Triad’s Naylor and Guse in the semi-final match 6-1, Muren and Patel had to reach back for a little extra to beat back a challenge from the two Knights before winning the second set 6-4.
The string of victories by Muren and Patel set up an “all O’Fallon” championship match. While Muren and Shree Patel were marching through their side of the doubles bracket, senior Prem Patel and sophomore Quincy Dollison were taking care of business of their own.
Patel and Dollison registered straight set victories over doubles teams from Hillsboro, Greenville and Triad to make it to the title tilt. Assured of advancement to the state tournament, the two Panther duos locked horns with Muren and Patel winning the championship match 6-2 and 6-3.
Niko Papachrisanthou made it a clean sweep for O’Fallon with a third place finish in singles play.
The talented freshman opened tourney play with a pair of victories in straight sets over Moses of Flora (6-0, 6-0) and Roach of Highland (6-1, 6-0). In the semi-final contest, Papachrisanthou dropped a 1-6, 0-6 decision to Grigg of Triad but was able to punch his ticket to Chicago with a victory in the third place match against Parsons of Triad, winning 6-2 and 6-1.
“I know our team is very excited about making the trip to Chicago this weekend,” Thoman said.
“Most of our team has had state tournament experience, so they should not be intimidated by the size of the field or the quality of opponent. We expect them to represent O’Fallon well when the preliminary rounds begin on Thursday. Our players are looking forward to the challenge.”
Most of our team has had state tournament experience, so they should not be intimidated by the size of the field or the quality of opponent.