By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
SAVANNAH - The Savannah boys' tennis team won a pair of doubles matches and won three out of four singles matches to beat Maryville 5-2 for a Class 1 District 16 title at the Savannah tennis courts on a warm Tuesday afternoon.
The district crown is the third straight for Savannah, which is now 30-2 in head-to-head team competitions since the beginning of last season.
All three of those district titles came against Maryville, but coach Wakefield Hare knew this year would be a big challenge.
"I knew Maryville had enough to compete and get to five (victories)," Hare said. "With the heat and our boys' mindset, when you beat a good team a couple of times, it's hard to focus. So, I'm proud of them for getting focused and I'm very thankful for this team and the champions that they are."
Maryville (10-3), who had lost to Savannah twice before this season alone, battled hard Tuesday, as the doubles team of Jaxon Staples and Kason Teale beat individual state qualifiers Matt Collier and Evan Heftye 9-8 in a tightly contested match.
Collier and Heftye now look forward to the opportunity of competing in doubles at the individual sectional tournament this Friday in Odessa.
Collier made state in doubles with his brother Drew last year, while Heftye went with Connor Peek.
"We know what we need to do, me and Evan (Heftye)," Collier said. "So, it's just the same as always. Just go out there and play."
Maryville's other win Tuesday came in No. 5 singles, where George Groumoutis beat Noah Gould 2-6, 6-2 and 10-4.
Otherwise, Savannah controlled the pace as sophomore Cole Horton scored an 8-2 win in doubles with his partner Connor Herbert over Maryville's Carson Kempf and Colby Bowles, 8-2.
Horton went on to win his singles match against Kempf, 6-2 and 6-4. He too will compete in individual sectionals this Friday after finishing fourth in the state singles tournament in Springfield last year as a freshman.
Horton also beat Kempf for an individual district title this past Friday.
"I thought we did pretty well in this heat," Horton said of his team's efforts Tuesday. "We all played really well...it was just a great day for tennis."
Herbert also won in singles Tuesday, defeating Bowles 6-2, 6-4. While Gould lost in singles, he won in doubles with Reid Courtney, as they beat Maryville's James DeStefino and George Groumoutis 8-2.
Savannah got the needed fifth victory to clinch when Courtney swept Landon Baker 6-0, 6-0.
"I think it's great we won this again this year," said Heftye, a junior. "But, it's going to be a battle to get through sectionals and get to state."
Savannah now moves onto team sectionals on Monday at a time and location to be determined. After getting bounced in team quarterfinals last year by eventual state champion Barstow, the Savages are poised to go even further this year.
"I love watching these guys play," coach Hare said. "The fact that the future is unclear and there's some expectations, but you're also like, 'Alright. That's a lot of fun.' It makes my tummy turn, but it's a lot of fun."
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