For the second time in five years, the Edwardsville Tigers will continue their quest as they enter the final day of the Illinois High School Association boys state tennis tournament with a chance of bringing home a state championship in doubles action.
Sectional champions a week ago, the Tigers top doubles combination of Alex Gray and Zach Trimpe moved into the semifinals on Friday in dramatic style as they scored a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 win over Christian San Andres and Zach Wood, of Downers Grove South, in a quarterfinal round match played at Buffalo Grove High School.
In what Tigers veteran coach David Lipe called “one of the most emotional and highest level high school doubles matches I’ve ever seen,” Gray and Trimpe rallied from third set deficits of 5-3 and 6-5, to force a tiebreaker. Once in the tiebreaker, the Tigers rolled past their opponents.
Now the Edwardsville tandem will advance into a semifinal round match on Saturday against Chris Casati and Niko Wasilewicz, of Deerfield. The match will be played at Arlington Heights Hersey High School.
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But as for now, Lipe and the Tigers netmen will take a few hours to rest and enjoy the win.
“It was a great high school tennis match between two teams that didn’t give an inch. All four of those boys gave everything they had until the last point,” Lipe said. “It went back and forth and there were times I thought we were going to win and there were times I was sure we were going to lose.
“But to the credit of both Alex and Zach, when they were down 5-3 and 6-5 in the last set. They didn’t panic. They held their poise and were able to get into the tiebreaker. Once there, they dominated. It was a great high school tennis match between four very good players.”
Gray and Trimpe are the second Edwardsville doubles team since 2012 to reach the state semifinals. That year, the Tigers pair of Justin Leskera and Cameron Randall went on to place fourth at state.
A win in the semifinals would put Trimpe and Gray into the state title match later Saturday afternoon. A loss would put them in the third-place match.
While, Gray and Trimpe moved on, Tigers teammate Erik Weiler saw his season end with a fourth round consolation loss. Weiler, who finished the state finals with a 3-2 record, placed in the top 32 in th singles draw.
Edwardsville is currently in fifth place in the team competition with 20 points.
Graf, West doubles team eliminated
Mascoutah’s standout sophomore Andy Graf was eliminated from the singles competition on Friday and like Weiler, placed in the top 32 with a 3-2 record.
The Belleville West doubles team of Drew Boyles and Derek Henke were eliminated on Friday and finished with a 2-2 mark.