EDWARDSVILLE — The first day of the Edwardsville Sectional on Friday began with a rousing show of support for Marquette Catholic's fallen player Zack Hunter.
All of the entries in the eight-team sectional came together for a group photo displaying shirts in their respective school colors with Hunter's name across the back along with his No. 77 from his hockey jersey.
The Marquette junior and member of the boys' tennis program passed away of complications from a car accident on April 17, leaving the Explorer family heartbroken.
In an attempt to support the family, the Hunter Fund was started. Money raised helps the family with looming medical bills and funeral costs.
Marquette head coach Mike Walters was moved by the support of the local tennis community.
“It shows you what a class act the tennis world really is in this area,” Walters said. “You've got coaches that put everything aside because of what has happened. It's really neat to see. The kids all jumped on board and enjoyed it. It's very touching and I know the Hunter family really appreciates this, I appreciate this and my kids really appreciate it. It's a great thing.”
Walters applauded Edwardsville head coach Dave Lipe for being a gracious host on Friday and Alton head coach and his nephew, Robert Logan, for helping bring the idea to fruition.
“I give a lot of credit to Alton High coach Robert Logan who called me and said, 'I'd like to really spearhead this,'” Walters said. “He got with Dave Lipe and they did most of it. We set up the fund and it's to help the family pay the medical bills and take care of anything else that comes along with funeral costs and things like that. It meant a lot when Robert called and said he wanted to do it. All the other coaches said, 'Yeah, we'll do it.' It means a lot.”
After the photo, the players took to the courts and participated in Day 1 of the two-day sectional donning their Hunter shirts.
The top four entries in singles and doubles qualify for next week's state tournament. The final four in each flight were determined on Friday with the semifinals and finals taking place today to figure out state seedings.
The Tigers qualified all four of their entries for state. Erik Weiler and Luke Motley earned their way into the sectional semifinals today in singles, as did doubles entries Alex Gray/Zach Trimpe and Carson Ware/Seth Lipe.
The Explorers pushed through Jon Claywell in singles and Silas Chapman advanced through Friday's field to the semifinals for Alton.
Jersey nabbed the other two doubles slots. Drake Blackwell/Trevor Davis and Alex Goldacker/Alex Roth will participate in the semifinals today.
Weiler meets Claywell and Motley plays Chapman at 8:30 a.m. today, while Gray/Trimpe battle Blackwell/Davis and Ware/Lipe face Goldacker/Roth.
All games will take place at the EHS Tennis Center.