Photo by S. Paige Allen
The Lewis and Clark Community College men's tennis team.
GODFREY – The Lewis and Clark Community College men’s tennis team finished its season No. 17 in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I National Tournament at Collin County Community College in Plano, Texas.
The Trailblazers earned a return trip to nationals after claiming the NJCAA Region 24 championship with a 9-0 win against Kaskaskia earlier this spring.
“Competing in nationals was a great experience. I had fun and played my heart out,” said freshman Brian Gebben of Alton.
Gebben and his doubles partner, Lucas Birk of Swansea, made it to the main draw quarterfinals.
“Lucas and I played our doubles matches very well and won our first two matches 6-0, 6-0. Then in the quarterfinal we lost to the No. 1 seeded team and that team went on to win the final. We feel proud of how far we went in the tournament,” Gebben said.
Gebben also won his singles final in the back draw, and Birk lost in his semifinal.
“After losing my first round of singles, I was determined to stay in the tournament. I played my best. I didn’t lose another match and ended up winning the final match which was a great feeling,” Gebben said.
Gebben, a 2013 graduate of Marquette Catholic High School, was a conference champion in 2011 and 2012 and played in the qualifying round of the 2011 United States Tennis Association (USTA) Men's Futures Pro Circuit Tournament at Lewis and Clark. He also won the Alton Junior Open tournament singles in 2012.
Sophomore Quinton Argent, of Ravenshoe, Australia, and doubles partner Milos Vukicevic, a sophomore from Belgrade, Serbia, made it through several competitive matches before losing the flight one semifinal of the back draw.
“It was great to return to play at nationals for the second year,” Argent said. “The competition was amazing and our team played well, finishing No. 17 out of 27 teams.”
Head coach Mike Patrick said his team played with a lot of heart.
“These young men worked hard, and I hope they continue and make another return to nationals again next season,” Patrick said.