A calculated risk by Belleville East tennis coach Dan Skaer paid off Wednesday.
But the end result was the same as Edwardsville handed the Lancers a 5-4 setback at the Edwardsville High School Tennis Complex.
In a match featuring two of the top tennis programs outside of the Chicago suburbs, Edwardsville won four of six singles matches then got a win from Eric Weiler and Carson Ware, who defeated the Lancers Vincent Gass and Sam Kellow 6-3, 6-1 in the No. 3 doubles match ,as it all but clinched the Southwestern Conference regular-season title.
“This was a tough one to lose. I’m sure the players are taking this one hard. But it’s a resiliant tough group of kids. I’m sure they’ll be back on the court tomorrow (Thursday) working hard and looking toward the next match,’’ Skaer said. “I don’t know when the last time a team from the SWC played them to within 5-4. I know it’s probably been a couple of years.’’
“We had a few kids step up and play well tonight and a couple who didn’t. That’s the way tennis is. To have a chance, I knew we needed to split in singles because I didn’t know if we could win at No. 3 doubles. That’s basically what happened.”
East (4-1 in SWC) got a win from Chase Stumne at No. 1 singles and Austin Klug at No. 6 singles. The Lancers had a chance in the No. 3 singles match, where the Tigers Alex Grey defeated Jacob Hamilton 4-6, 6-3, 10-5.
The Tigers’ Jon Koons, Alex Messo and Kyle Carlson all won their singles matches in straight sets.
In doubles, Skaer split up his top doubles team of Stumne and Hamilton, who placed in the top 12 at the state finals a year ago.
The strategy worked when Hamilton and Kobi Phillips defeated Meso and Koons 7-5, 4-6, 10-8 in the No. 1 doubles match, while Stumne and Clayton Baldus defeated Grey and Carlson 6-0, 5-7, 10-1 in No. 2 doubles.
But when Ware and Weiler won in the No. 3 doubles match, the Tigers had the key SWC win.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at email@example.com or 618-239-2661.