ALTON — The Edwardsville Tigers claimed their 15th straight IHSA sectional title with 26 points at Alton High School on Saturday, while winning both singles and doubles titles.
Alton took second with 13 points, followed by Civic Memorial with seven points. East Alton-Wood River, Roxana, and Marquette Catholic all tied for the fourth spot with four points each, while Metro East Lutheran and Jersey rounded out the sectional competition with two points.
"I think some of our kids turned in their best tennis of the year," Edwardsville head coach Dave Lipe said. "Our No. 1 doubles with (Jonathan) Koons and (Alex) Gray, they turned out to be very dominant and beat a very good team in (Kain) Henson and (Jackson) Scheiter (of Alton) that was too good for (Joe) Mezo and (Carson) Ware today in the semis. Our seniors did extremely well, they're hurrying back now so they don't miss their graduation ceremony. I'm very proud of Luke (Motley) and Erik (Weiler) on the singles side. Erik Weiler really put in a dominate performance today. He has an amazing serve."
Weiler, a sophomore, easily took the top spot in singles defeating Civic Memorial senior Brett Norvell 6-0,6-0 in the semifinals. Marquette junior Nick Berkenbile fell short to Edwardsville junior Luke Motley 6-3, 6-1 forcing the Tigers to play teammate against teammate for first and second place in the finals.
Weiler earned the win 6-1, 6-0 over Motley, giving him his first sectional championship. CM's Norvell garnered the win over Marquette's Birkenbile 6-3, 7-5 to secure a third-place finish for the Eagles. The top four singles and doubles competitors qualify for state.
In doubles, Alton seniors Kain Henson and Jackson Scheiter defeated Edwardsville's Joe Mezo and Carson Ware 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 in doubles during the semifinal round, giving four year varsity letterman Henson his first career victory over an Edwardsville player. Alton's Drew Hays and Carl Stradal fell short 7-6, 6-4 to Edwardsville senior Jonathan Koons and freshman Alex Gray in the semifinals.
Henson and Scheiter then fell behind in the finals to Koons and Gray, ultimately losing 6-1, 6-2. Alton's Stradal and Hays walked away with the third place finish over Mezo and Ware due to an Edwardsville injury default.
"The first match we came out hard against Mezo and Ware," Henson said. "I think that's my first win against Edwardsville in my career, so that's huge for me personally. We just couldn't put together that same momentum in the second match with Gray and Koons. We didn't have the same energy and we were missing some easy shots. Last night we had our graduation and we are probably a little pre-occupied with that, I think we got a little worn down."
Alton head coach Jesse Macias added, "Our doubles semifinal rounds had great tennis on both sides and I'm proud of our guys. Edwardsville has some fantastic players and both matches ended up close and hard fought. Henson and Scheiter did really good, they had two back-to-back tough matches with hard Edwardsville teams. I'm really happy overall to make it to sectional finals and to send four guys to state."
Edwardsville qualified all six of their players for state with Mezo, Ware, Weiler, Motley, Koons and Gray, while Alton advanced four players to Chicagoland with Henson, Scheiter, Stradal and Hays. The Eagles and Explorers are each sending a representative to the tournament with Novell and Berkenbile in singles.
The state finals will begin on Thursday and conclude on Saturday. Tournament central will be at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights.