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Three area singles players and two area doubles teams are headed to the IHSA Boys State Tennis Meet next weekend after reaching sectional semifinals Friday.
At the DeKalb Sectional, La Salle-Peru senior Reo Hammers advanced in singles, while teammates Jake and Trent Lipka qualified for state in doubles.
“It’s always great to have more than one qualifier because then they can root each other on,” L-P coach Sue McKnight said. “These guys deserve it.”
Ottawa had senior singles players Jackson Evensen and David Dobrose qualify out of the DeKalb Sectional.
“We’re excited,” Ottawa coach Matt Gross said. “They’ve really been our two steadiest players all year. We’re real happy for both of them.”
Mendota is sending the doubles team of James Carroll and Mark Prescott.
Hammers earned his third trip to state with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Belvidere’s Bryan Jenkins and a 6-0, 6-1 victory over DeKalb’s Phil Hendrickson.
He will face Debrose in the semifinals.
The Lipkas punched their ticket to state with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Morris and a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Jon Hohertz and Nick Phalen from Mendota.
The cousins will play a team from DeKalb in the semifinals.
“They all played really well,” McKnight said. “It was a little windy again, but they kept the ball in play and got points when they had to. I’m looking forward to some good matches (today).”
Evensen reached the semifinals with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Belvidere North’s Matt Vittore and a 6-4, 6-3 win over Mendota’s Cody Phalen.
Evensen will face top-seeded Matt Kulma in the semifinals.
Dobrose beat Belvidere North’s Isaiah Bartley 6-0, 6-0 and Rochelle’s Brendan O’Rorke 7-5, 6-2 to advance to the semifinals.
“Jackson has been playing No. 1 all year and I thought state was on the horizon for him based on his play. He’s so consistent and he’s a smart player,” Gross said.
“David made it to state last year in doubles. For him to make it in singles this year, I’m really happy for him because singles is just a different game. He really had to become a lot more patient with his game and play a little bit smarter. That’s the reason he won his quarterfinal match. He kept his cool and was able to finish it out.”
In the team competition, L-P, Ottawa and DeKalb are all tied for first.
“Hopefully, we come to play (today) and we can win the sectional,” McKnight said. Gross said he thinks L-P is the favorite to claim the sectional crown.
“We’ve been the third or fourth best team in our conference, and it’s going to end up that way for the sectional, too,” Gross said. “I like to think positively, but also realistically as well. Anything can happen without a doubt. Going into (today) we’re all neck and neck and we’ll see what happens. The boys will decide it.”
Princeton was sent to the Moline Sectional this year and the Tigers had no one qualify for state.
Princeton’s No. 1 doubles team of Brady Frank and Ian Nichols won its first match 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 over Rock Island but then lost in the second round 6-4, 6-3 to the No. 5-seeded team from Alleman.
Frank and Nichols were the only PHS players to win a match.
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