Phoenix staff report
The Muskogee boys tennis team is making a return trip to the state tournament after finishing in a tie for second at the Class 6A regional tournament on Monday at Shadow Mountain in Tulsa.
The Roughers tied Union with 26 points, one point behind Bishop Kelley with the top four placers in team, doubles and singles earning a berth to state. Muskogee coach Rusty Bradley was very happy with the team’s performance.
“The team was outstanding,” said the MHS coach. “I knew we had a good shot at No. 1 and 2 singles to play tough and they did.”
Both the singles players for the Roughers captured the regional championship as Connor Finerty, playing at No. 1 singles, defeated Daren Ghali of Norman 6-1, 6-4 while No. 2 singles player Shan Bradley, Rusty’s son, defeated Carson Howard of Bishop Kelley 6-4, 6-4 to win his division. Finerty, whose record improved to 14-2, knows last year’s experience at state will benefit him this time around.
“At state, there’s a lot of people cheering you on,” Finerty said. “There are big crowds so you gotta get used to it. I got fourth last year at state and I’m going into state this year pretty positive.”
Shan Bradley, who now stands at 17-6 on the year, has built on his 2012 season to improve his game this year and is certain his best tennis is yet to come.
“I’ve gotten a lot better since the beginning of the season,” Shan said. “I feel like I’m peaking but I think I can be better. As a team we did good and out No. 2 doubles fought hard.”
In the doubles portion, Stephen Crank and Ryan Pearce qualified for state by finishing fourth in No. 1 doubles, falling to the team from Bishop Kelley in the third-place match 6-2, 6-2, while the No. 2 doubles team of Seth Chapius and Colin Watson just missed making the trip to state, falling into the fifth-place match before losing to the team from Norman 6-1, 7-6.
“No. 1 doubles had their work cut out for them,” Rusty said. “They were going in as the No. 4 seed and Sand Springs had me a little nervous but they pulled through and beat them 6-2, 7-5 to qualify for state. No. 2 doubles never gave up but just couldn’t win the big points. They tried their hearts out.”
The draw for the state tournament will be decided on 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the coaches meeting.
Playing at Claremore High School, the Tahlequah Tigers qualified both singles players and a doubles team for the state tourney from the Region II tournament.
Connor Nelson finished third in No. 1 singles and clinched the state berth by beating Grove’s Michael Lippitt 6-1, 6-0. In No. 2 singles, Leon Beck came in fourth after falling to Collinsville’s Landon Coulter 6-4, 7-6.
In doubles, Lars Gris and Hunter Manes finished third and beat a duo from Skiatook 6-0, 6-0 to qualify for state at No. 1. The No. 2 doubles team from THS, Ben Ballard and John Molina, ended up fifth.
At LaFortune Park in Tulsa, Wagoner sophomore Chris Lindsay became the first boy from the school to qualify for state. He beat Victory Christian’s Edward Thomas 6-2, 6-0 to finish in third place at No. 1 singles in the Region III tournament to advance to Oklahoma City. Seeded third, Lindsay won three of his four matches.
Meanwhile, No. 2 singles Tanner Epperson and the doubles teams of Ryan Drake and Denton Bosco at No. 1 and Tucker Hoffman and Ben Matthews at No. 2 finished sixth and did not qualify for the state tournament.
Meanwhile, Colin Miller and Andrew Kaler of Midway lost two straight matches in doubles to end their season.