The weather-cursed Belleville East Invitational Tennis Tournament felt the wrath of Mother Nature again Friday, but it didn’t stop the Belleville East Lancers from shining in an event that was reduced to one day.
Remaining undefeated on the season, the Lancers highly touted doubles combination of Jacob Hamilton and Chase Stumne held off Zach Settelmyer and Kiran Patel-O'Connor of Peoria Richwoods 7-6, 7-5 in the No. 1 doubles final and three other Lancers entries claimed top three finishes as East tied Normal for the tournament title.
“It’s about 50-50 when I think about the Belleville East Tournaments where we’ve had rain,’’ Lancers coach and tournament director Dan Skaer said. “With the weather forecast the way it was for Saturday, we decided to have a one-day tournament on Friday. It worked out well.
“We had some great matches and in the No. 1 doubles flight we had four teams which could be seeded in the top 16 at the state tournament.’’
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East and Normal tied with 58 points, six more than third-place O’Fallon (52). Peoria Richwoods (47 points) and Alton (43) rounded out the top five.
Fresh off an impressive doubles championship last week at the Moline Invitational, Stumne and Hamilton led the way for the Lancers with their win in the No. 1 doubles division.
“It wasn’t easy at all. The No. 1 doubles flight was really strong this year,’’ Skaer said. “The team that Chase and Jacob beat in the final had beaten a team from Normal ( Brandon Lam and Justin Buechele), which were in the top 12 at state in doubles last year. It was a great final and a big win for Jacob and Chase.’’
But the real story for East was its depth.
Splitting his team into two tournament entries, Skaer marveled at the Lancers’ depth which saw unknown singles player Austin Klug win three matches and advance to the final of the No. 2 singles flight, where he finished second, losing to O’Fallon’s Riley Muren in the final.
Sophomore Kobi Phillips of East placed second at No. 1 singles, falling to Tyler Washington of Normal in the final.
East also received a second-place finish from Vincent Gass and Matt MacAinsh in No. 2 doubles. O’Fallon’s Matt Lloyd and Jon Garry placed third in No.2 doubles.
East will now prepare to play Edwardsville in a match which could decide the regular-season Southwestern Conference championship. The two teams will put undefeated SWC marks on the line at 4 p.m. on Wednesday at Edwardsville.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at email@example.com or 618-239-2661.