Before they ever step on the tennis court for their first match at the IHSA Class AA boys state tennis tournament on Thursday, the Edwardsville High School doubles combination of sophomore Zach Trimpe and junior Alex Gray will be in the spotlight.
Fourth in the state finals in 2016, Gray and Trimpe earned the top-seed when the IHSA Class A and Class AA state tournaments begin Thursday morning at several sites in suburban Chicago.
Southwestern Conference and IHSA sectional champions, Trimpe and Gray will take on Ben Oakley and Andrew Vonderheide of Quincy in their first round match at 9 a.m. at Conant High School. Three full rounds of competition are scheduled in both singles and doubles on Thursday in the double elimination event that concludes Saturday.
A total of 24 metro east players, eight in singles and 16 in doubles, are participating.
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Edwardsville coach David Lipe also has singles players Erik Weiler and Seth Lipe in the field. But for the Tigers to contend for a top five finish, they will need a big effort from their doubles team.
“When we finished fourth in doubles last year, I think maybe we were able to sneak up on some people. They didn’t know about Zach and Alex. It’s a different situation this year,” David Lipe said. “To me and hopefully Zach and Alex, being the top seed doesn’t really mean much. Just because you are the top seed doesn’t mean you only have to win one set or that you get extra serves. You still have to hit the shots and win the points.”
Other top local doubles teams hoping to advance in the winners bracket on Thursday are junior Drew Boyles and Derek Henke of Belleville West; and juniors Christian Cowulich and Carter Baldus of Belleville East.
Belleville East sophomore Max Skaer, who won the sectional title, just missed earning a top 16 seed in the singles draw. Belleville East coach Dan Skaer thinks his son has a tough road ahead of him.
“Class AA singles is brutally tough. There are 25-30 players that are guys you don’t want to see in the early rounds and only 16 of them got seeded,” Dan Skaer said. “If Max plays like he’s been playing the whole season, he will be a handful for most any player.”
O’Fallon sophomore Drake Schreiber is also in the singles field.
Mississippi Valley Conference champion Mascoutah junior Andy Graf is seeded in the No 5-8 group in singles in the first Class A state tennis tournament. Other singles players in the field are Althoff senior Donovan McKnight; Mascoutah senior Zach Harris; and Triad sophomore Nick Parsons.
Triad, which won the Class A sectional title, is also represented by the doubles teams of sophomore Sean Froidcouer and senior Brendan Grigg and seniors Zach Rosenthal and Cameron Little.