Will play next in sectional tournament on Saturday, May 20th at a site to be determined
After 30-plus years of getting shutout in the postseason, the Boonville Pirates tennis team can now claim they are district champions after beating the Kirksville Tigers Wednesday night at the high school tennis courts 5-3.
With the first team to five wins, the Pirate netters had to wait until the final two matches at No. 5-6 singles to start the celebration. As it turned out, No. 6 singles player Kyle Chrisman won his match before No. 5 singles player Gabe Rumbaoa to give Boonville the victory.
The Pirate netters, 11-1 on the season, will move on to the Class 1 Sectional Tournament on Saturday, May 20th at a site to be determined. Boonville will face Helias Catholic. Priory and St. Dominic will play the second match with the two winners to meet in the championship match.
Boonville Pirates tennis coach Stephanie Green said winning the boys district championship for the first time in recent history with this group of players is special.
“We’ve been working to this team goal since last season and it was good to see our work come to fruition,” Green said. “We knew Kirksville would be a formidable opponent, but we were able to go in with confidence and knew where we needed to pull out wins, so the guys did exactly what we planned.”
With doubles going first, Boonville looked to be in good shape after recording wins in two out of the three matches.
Of course what better way to start the match than with a win at No. 1 doubles with the team of Philip and Joshua Udinyiwe beating the team of Rusian Pultz and Garrett Johnson 8-4.
Unfortunately for Boonville, the Tigers came back and evened the score at the No. 2 position with the team of Bennett Hoshaw and James Hendler winning 8-4 over Gio Strickland and Luke Rehagen.
Then, to go up 2-1 in the match, the No. 3 doubles team of Gabe Rumbaoa and Kyle Chrisman defeated the team of Reza Hamidi and Charles Fraser 9-7.
Green said she was pleased with Udinyiwes performance.
“They played smart and solidly,” Green said. “The loss at the No. 2 spot tied us at 1-1, and Rumbaoa and Chrisman pulled off a good win against a tough and improved Kirksville team.”
The Pirates continued their winning ways in singles, with Philip and Joshua Udinyiwe both winning their matches to give Boonville a 4-1 lead. Philip Udinyiwe, playing No. 2 singles, beat Hoshaw in straight sets 7-5, 6-2. Meanwhile, at No. 3 singles, Joshua Udinyiwe defeated Johnson in two straight 6-1, 6-1.
Strickland and Rehagen took the court next hoping to closeout the match with just one more win. However the Tigers had different thoughts while taking both matches, with Pultz winning 6-0 and 6-1 over Strickland at the No. 1 position and Hendler prevailing in three sets over Rehagen 5-7, 6-2 and 2-6 at the No. 4 spot.
Green said she put Joshua Udinyiwe on, as he had already had success against Johnson a couple of times this season and he was able to put together a pretty dominate win to put us up 3-1.
“With Philip Udinyiwe, Rehagen and Rumbaoa on we knew we needed two of those wins for the match,” Green said. “Philip pulled through after a tough first set and his momentum picked up when he went up 3-0 in the second. He dropped a couple of games, but was still playing the court well and with smart shots to put us at 4-1. We knew Strickland would have a tough time with Pultz because he’s a really strong state qualifier from last year, but they had a fun match even though it added to the pressure at 4-2 to win that last match.
“Rehagen and Hendler had a close match earlier in the season and tonight’s was the only three set match. He rebounded well at the end of the first set and took a good lead in the wecond, but had some trouble with a hand cramp in the third and made some errors. It was a really well played match on both sides despite that loss that ended with us at 4-3.”
As for Rumbaoa’s and Chrisman’s match, Boonville needed to win just one of the two and finally nailed down the victory with Chrisman beating Charles Fraser in two straights 6-4, 6-2.
Green said she knew they had a pretty solid chance of pulling off that last win. “Kyle was able to finish first for the final match win, but Rumbaoa was right behind him already having taken the first set and tied at 3-3 in the second,” Green said.