Central duo wins match before exiting state tournament

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Central tennis players Patrick Duffy and David Berry had a memorable experience last year competing in the state tournament in Springfield.

The memories are even better now in their senior year as Duffy and Berry qualified once again, and this time they have a victory under their belt.

Duffy and Berry defeated Jonathan Kootman and Ashwath Sampath of Parkway Central 6-4, 6-0 Friday morning in the first round of the MSHSAA Tournament at the Cooper Tennis Complex.

"It is unbelievable to win a match at state," said Berry, who will continue his tennis next season at Westminster University in Fulton. "That was a huge win and assures us of finishing in the top eight."

It took the Tiger duo a while to get started against the Colt team, which competed Thursday in the team portion of the state tournament.

"We got on a roll as the match went on, and we were able to seal the deal," Berry said.

The victory proved to the be highlight, as the Central duo lost its next two matches and was eliminated.

A win in the quarterfinals against Lafayette brothers Ryan King and Adam King would have guaranteed a medal for Duffy and Berry. However, the Kings won a hard-fought match, 6-4, 7-6.

"That was a match we could have won," Berry said. "It eats at me that we didn't."

Central had a 4-2 lead in the first set before losing the next four games.

The Tigers had a 4-2 lead in the second set tie-breaker when Berry's shot hit the top of the net but did not go over. If it had, Central would have had a commanding 5-2 tie-breaker lead and the momentum.

"It was a tough loss," said Duffy, who will be attending St. Louis University in the fall. "But I feel that overall this was a success. Our main goal was to win that first match and everything after that was going to be a bonus."

Duffy and Berry closed out the long day with a three-set loss toRockhurst's Thomas O'Neil and Dominic Palmieir. The Hawklets had the advantage as they did not have to play their second match on the hot, sunny day as they won by default.

Rockhurst started strongly and captured the first set 6-1, but Central rebounded to take charge in the second set, winning 6-2. The Rockhurst pair won the third set 6-3.

A win would have kept the Tigers' medal hopes alive and enabled them to play today.

"We had a few problems out there today but I felt they played well overall," Central coach Bud Craven said. "It was great to win round one, and we plaed a tough team and really competed in that second match. We got down in the first set but came back in the second, and that tie-breaker could have gone either way."

The first day of the state tournament was a big one for St. Louis area players. They had three singles semifinalists in Class 1, two singles semifinalists in Class 2, and two semifinalists in both Class 1 and Class 2 doubles.

For the first time in recent memory, there were no Kansas City area players in any of the semifinals -- singles or doubles, Class 1 or Class 2.

The semifinals will begin at 9 a.m. today with the championship matches at 1 p.m.

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