Tough opening round opponents dashed the hopes of the three lake area qualifiers for state tennis tournament in Springfield Friday, May 24.
Playing under clear, albeit slightly breezy conditions, the School of the Osage doubles team of juniors Adam Keith and Ryan Curran took on the doubles team of Charlie Van Doren and Nicholas Guo — part of the second place team in Class 1 from John Burroughs High School in suburban St. Louis.
In one of the most exciting matches for any lake area tennis teams this season, Keith and Curran lost to the John Burroughs pair 5-7, 2-6.
The match started heavily in Osage's favor, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first set behind Curran's strong serving performance. Curran lobbed the ball over the JBHS team to win the first game, using a tactic Osage Coach Scott Blacksher said might be used against the shorter Osage team.
"I told them to look for the lob, because they're a short team," Blacksher said after that point. "They're going to have to play their best to win today."
Blacksher said that the team didn't decide to partner Keith and Curran until later in the season, just before weather forced the cancellation of three dual matches and one tournament. Keith and Curran had the fewest matches played together of any team in the tournament Friday.
John Burroughs tied the first set at 3-3, but a wild serve put Osage down 3-4. Keith and Curran again rallied to tie the first set at 5-5, but the more experienced and taller John Burroughs team took the first set, 7-5.
Losing the first set seemed to rattle the Osage team, which went down 0-3 quickly in the second set.
An Osage spectator noted the sportsmanship of the John Burroughs team when Keith took a nasty tumble at the net, making sure Keith was uninjured before continuing.
Midway through the second set, Keith and Curran shook off the cobwebs and rallied to notch a couple of games, but the effort came too late, as John Burroughs won the second set 6-2 and thus the match.
"That was an exciting match," Blacksher said after congratulating the John Burroughs team. "They met a solid team, but I'm proud of my boys."
Van Doren and Guo went on to become semi-finalists in the tournament. Both Curran and Keith are expected to return in 2014 as seniors.
Camdenton senior Luc Ginoux, the only Laker to qualify for the state tournament, faced an even tougher foe in the opening round of the Class 2 singles tournament.
Playing inside the Cooper Tennis Complex, Ginoux faced Ozark Tournament Champion Jeremy Lynn, of Joplin, in the opening round.
"Luc drew a tough match and we knew that," Camdenton Coach Kirk Richey said.
Page 2 of 2 - "It's a little bit different level of tennis in here," he said, motioning from the balcony of the tennis center at the courts below.
Richey was not kidding, as Ginoux quickly dropped the first game of the match to Lynn, whose laser-like serve proved an impenetrable force throughout the match.
And although Ginoux — who had only lost three matches the entire season — executed as best he could, Lynn, ranked the number one tennis recruit in Missouri, bested him on every level.
"And he will be [the best] by the end of the day," Richey predicted mid-match.
At 1-4 in the second set, a long rally marked by several drop shots captured the attention of the crowd on the balcony as Lynn approached the net and returned a drop shot down the line past Ginoux. Ginoux retreated, turned around and sent a sharp forehand down the line past Lynn, igniting a round of applause from the spectators.
Ginoux began to figure out Lynn's weaknesses in the second set, but by then, the damage had been done.
Ginoux went on to lose the match 0-6, 2-6 as Lynn eventually won the tournament.