Tennis team ‘unoffically’ awesome at league tourney
Tuesday's win was sweet because it was Andrew Konetzni's last action for a week. It was sweet because it was first place in the unofficial Frontier League tennis tournament, because it was a big step toward securing a top-three seed at next month's regional tournament and because it represented Konetzni's progress and his growth in his freshman year.
Mostly, it was sweet because it was revenge. Konetzni avenged one of his four losses on the season with a 6-3, 6-4 two-set victory over Nathan Dick of Baldwin, balancing the series between the two at one win apiece after Dick won a 6-3 match April 12.
The win should give the De Soto freshman an edge over Dick come tournament seeding time, and in it Konetzni showed just how dangerous he can be.
"It feels a lot better," Konetzni said. "It feels good to get that win back."
The Frontier League is without a true tennis tournament as only four schools field teams. The Cats proved they were the class of those that do, however. Fueled by championship efforts from Konetzni in No. 1 singles and Dan Hoschouer and Andy Edwards in No. 1 doubles, the Cats edged Baldwin for the unofficial crown. Matt Edwards was third in No. 2 singles and Matt L'Ecuyer and Trevor Elmer were fifth in No. 2 doubles.
De Soto finished with 28 points, tied with Baldwin. Konetzni's win gave De Soto a head-to-head advantage, however, and pushed the Cats over the top.
"One of the biggest goals today was for Andrew to have a strong showing," De Soto coach Michael Sullivan said. "We wanted him to have a strong showing to get another chance at Nathan Dick. That was a big key for us."
Konetzni credited his win to adopting his opponent's style -- "pushing," he said -- but early in the first set he used his own power and creativity to set the style.
Up 3-1, Konetzni let one game slip, then was in danger of losing another. He scraped a soft changeup just over the net and landed it well in front of Dick -- a perfectly executed shot that sent Dick skidding hopelessly toward the ball on his knees. Konetzni then broke up a string of powerful forehands with a drop shot, a ball Dick hammered back hard into the net to give Konetzni the game and a 4-2 lead.
The freshman closed out the second set in equally thrilling fashion. Playing for the championship point he twice blasted a ball off the top of the net. Dick easily handled the first, then attacked the second with a slick spin and an accurate strike. Dick finally ended the match several returns later with another ball into the net.
"I was trying to stretch him wide, and it worked," Konetzni said. "I was able to stay a lot more consistent and played his game."
Hoschouer and Andy Edwards did it without the theatrics, but their final-round victory wasn't exactly easy. The pair was mired in a 2-2 first set before breaking open for a 6-2 win, then took the first three games of the second set, paving the way to a 6-3 win.
Tuesday's success came after an outstanding performance across the varsity roster Saturday at the Baldwin Invitational.
Both Hoschouer and Edwards and Konetzni cruised their brackets with 5-0 records. Hoschouer won the No. 1 singles division while Konetzni took first in the No. 2 singles. Matt Edwards was third in No. 1 singles.
De Soto's season is coming to an end, but the Cats have two huge meets looming in the next week. De Soto will host its own invitational Saturday, starting at 8:30 a.m. Then the team will play May 4 in the regional tournament for a chance to advance to the Class 4A state meet.