GODFREY — The Edwardsville Invite is a good barometer for boys' tennis teams to measure against for the season.
For the Alton Redbirds, the outcome may not have been favorable Saturday, but the effort was admirable.
Mother Nature intervened on Friday, shaving a day off the two-day tournament. It was decided to transform the tourney into a round robin format and the Redbirds drew Normal Community, Chaminade and Hinsdale Central's Red squad.
The draw left the Birds playing some top-notch tennis players and Jesse Macias was happy to see how his team stood up to the test, despite the finish. Alton lost 5-0 to Normal, 3-2 to Chaminade and 5-0 to Hinsdale Central's Red team.
“We played three quality teams,” said Macias, who is in his final season as head coach at AHS. A successor is yet to be named. “Normal has a tremendous team. Their No. 1 doubles team (Justin Buechele and Brandon Lam) is one of the better teams in the state. We played well, but they also had a really solid No. 1. Then Chaminade, their No. 1 player (Trevor Allen) got third in state last year. Carl Stradal, our No. 1, lost to him in three sets but it was a great match and it could have gone either way. And anytime you get to play against Hinsdale Central it's jut a great opportunity for your program. It's fun for the kids because they are the real deal. They have Edward Grabill, the defending state champion in singles, they had the runner-up for doubles (Lope Adelakun and Chase Hamilton).
“We've played those teams since I've been here and I know our kids like the opportunity and it will make you better. We took it on the chin today, but I know we're going to be better for it.”
The idea to cut the tourney to one day turned out to be a great concept according to Macias. The tournament concluded earlier to set up for Easter weekend and allowed for the quality opponents due to the round robin.
“It was disappointing not getting to play on Friday, but when we changed it it almost turned out for the better for us in the long run because it gave us a chance to do pool play,” Macias said. “We played great teams. It would have been nice to play both days, but it's still a great tournament and (Edwardsville coach) Dave (Lipe) gets some great competition down here. I'm happy with the teams we got to play today. I'm not happy with the result, but I'm happy with the effort.”
Unfortunately, the Birds only accumulated two wins on the day, but there were some other respectable performances.
The wins came when Kain Henson and Jackson Scheiter won 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1 doubles against Chaminade. The No. 2 doubles team for Alton, Drew Hays and Alex Piazza won in three sets, 7-6, 3-6, 10-4 against Chaminade to account for the other win.
Carl Stradal also had a valiant effort against Chaminade's Allen at No. 1 singles, going three sets before falling 6-1, 3-6, 4-10.
Macias was happy with the performances.
“Carl lost to Normal and a really good kid at No. 1 (Tyler Washington) and in the Chaminade match he played some of the better tennis he's played,” Macias said. “He lost in a tiebreaker to a kid that finished third in the state and is obviously good. He lost 6-0, 6-0 to Eddie Grabill, but Carl fought the whole match and it's what he needed, to see that level of competition because you're going to see it at sectionals, you're going to see it at state. It just makes you better.
“Our No. 1 doubles team probably had the best day. They beat Chaminade and they lost to Hinsdale Central 6-3, 6-2, but it just felt like they were in the match the whole time and they lost a tough match to a team from Normal that was all state last year. (Lam and Buechele) won five matches at state last year. We just had the opportunity to see good players across the board. Our team is pretty young, our No. 2 doubles team did beat Chaminade, but we went out there and looked young at some of the other spots, but it's good for us. It will only help for conference and the other good teams we're going to see.”
Other competitors for the Redbirds on Saturday were: Jett Durr, Julius Resche and Silas Chapman. Alton is back in action at 4 p.m. Wednesday, playing host to Southwestern Conference rival Collinsville.