Owls leave state tourney medal-less
SPRINGFIELD -- Things didn't go quite as expected for the Marshall boys' tennis players who made the trip to Springfield for the MSHSAA Class 1 Individual Championships.
The Owls' doubles combo of juniors Hunter Hsu and Jesse Murphy, second in the District 4 Tournament, came up only one round shy of earning a state medal -- performing better than the district champions. However, junior Myles Yokeley, sixth in the state a year ago, was done in Friday.
"He went down there with the attitude that he wanted to make things happen," remarked MHS head coach Susan Carney. "He just had an 'off' day."
Yokeley had the same first-round opponent that he did last year, but instead of a three-set victory over junior Daniel Gillespie of Pembroke Hill in Kansas City he suffered a 6-2, 6-2 loss. That may not have been a devastating blow -- Gillespie, after all, went on the finish fourth -- but then Yokeley lost to Ozark senior Josh Ross, 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, in the consolation round.
"He just wasn't hitting like Myles can hit," Carney said. "He puts a lot of pressure on himself. He feels bad about it."
It certainly was a disappointing end to an otherwise outstanding season for Yokeley (24-6), who won the NCMC and district titles and was second at the tough Smith-Cotton Tournament. Fortunately, he'll have another crack at it next year.
So will Hsu and Murphy, who went through an awfully tough bracket in order to play on Saturday. "They honestly did about as well as they could do," Carney noted.
A first-round win over the undefeated Charleston duo of juniors Blake Branum and Derek Hoppe, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, got the Owls into the quarterfinals and a tilt with freshman Jonathan Pang and junior Max Shapiro of Clayton -- which would reach the finals after downing Hsu and Murphy, 6-2, 6-3.
The Marshall players won by default when a senior pair from Westminster Christian in St. Louis had to leave for graduation, but the seniors from Pembroke Hill -- Mark Danforth and Blake Goza -- were on hand to deal Hsu and Murphy a 6-1, 6-0 loss before finishing sixth.
"I don't know how many times they were up in games," Carney said about the last match, which was closer than the score indicated. "Those people are good enough that they can come back."
Hsu and Murphy posted a 21-7 record this season and will be key for the Owls (15-4) when they return five of their six singles starters and nine of the top 12 next season.