Boys tennis: Morris’ Connor Barth claims singles title at Class 1A La Salle-Peru Sectional

La Salle-Peru’s of Andrew Bollis and Danny Santoy place second in doubles competition

Morris sophomore Connor Barth

LA SALLE — Morris sophomore singles player Connor Barth had his sights set on the task at hand during play at the Class 1A La Salle-Peru Sectional on Saturday at the L-P Sports Complex.

Barth started his day with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Princeton junior Chase Sims in the semifinals, then went on to a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Metamora’s Dane Hutchison to claim the championship.

“You’re right, coming into today you have to have a different mindset,” said Barth, who also qualified for state as a freshman. “Everyone here knows they are already going to state, but you have to really want to win the (sectional) title. My mindset was I was voted the No. 1 seed and I wanted to come out here and earn it. I feel like I played well and was able to accomplish that goal.”

All competitors in Saturday’s semifinal and title matches had already qualified for the state tournament, which begins Thursday in the Chicago suburbs, while pairings are expected to be released Tuesday afternoon.

“Last year I made it to the last match of the first day,” Barth said. “This year my goal is to make it to Day 2 on Friday. It takes winning three matches on Thursday to do that, so I’m going in with the thought of winning those three matches and then see what can happen from there.”

Princeton senior Tyson Phillps and junior Chase Sims.

On the other side of the singles bracket, Princeton senior Tyson Phillips dropped a 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 decision to Hutchison, but came back for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 win in a “strange” third-place match against his teammate Sims.

“I think we just both just wanted to have fun with it,” said Sims, who will be going to state for the first time. “It was tough really to have the thought of ‘I’ve got to win this match’ just because we are teammates. I think we both tried to treat it like a normal match but I’m not sure how well we did that. We had fun, but yes it was weird.

“I really looking forward to the experience and just want to go (to state) and have as much fun as I can.”

For Phillips, it will be his third time heading on the the state’s biggest tennis stage.

“One of my goals this year is to stay more consistent throughout matches and stay confident in any situation,” Phillips said. “The first two years at state I don’t feel like I did as well as I could in those two things.

“I’d really like to win three matches on Thursday and make it to Day 2, that would be a cool accomplishment for me after not being able to do that before.”

La Salle-Peru senior Andrew Bollis and junior Danny Santoy.

In the doubles bracket, the La Salle-Peru duo of senior Andrew Bollis and junior Danny Santoy defeated Metamora’s Jack Hessing and Weston Lange 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 in the semifinals, but then dropped a 6-1, 6-3 decision to the Redbirds team of Hudson Shaw and Tommy Sopko in the championship match.

“I had gotten third in sectionals three times and had never been able to play in the championship match before today so I’m really happy with how we did,” Bollis said. “(Shaw and Sopko) are really good. The first set I would say we were beating ourselves a little and the second set they were just better, but I feel we made them play. We competed.

“Our goal is to win three matches and make it to Friday. It’s something I haven’t done before and would love to do it in my last (prep) season.”

Santoy, who remembered not liking how he played in last year’s sectional when he and Bollis also qualified for state, felt he came into the day more prepared for the experience.

“I just happy and excited to be going to state again,” Santoy said. “I’m also happy that I played much more relaxed and better than I did last year at this time. I think we both had the goal of winning (our semifinal match) and then see what happens from there. I’m happy with the way we played for the most part the last two days and hopefully we can stay at this level next week.”

Ottawa senior Alan Sifuentes (left) and sophomore Evan Krafft.

The Ottawa team of senior Alan Sifuentes and sophomore Evan Krafft fell in the semifinals to Shaw and Sopko 6-2, 6-3, but rebounded in the third-place match to top Hessing and Lange 6-4, 6-2. Both will be going to state for the first time.

“(Friday) was so big for us,” Sifuentes said. “Winning that last match (on Friday) to put us into the semifinals and knowing we were going to get a chance to play at state was so awesome. Then today, you always want to win, always, but I also feel like we wanted to come out and play two solid tennis matches. I felt like we did that, other than maybe starting a little slow in each one.

“I’ve been telling people I want to qualify for the state tournament since my sophomore year. Now I’ve done it and I’m looking forward to competing.”

Krafft said he just wanted to help his teammate reach his goal.

“Tennis means a lot to me and being a sophomore and Alan being a senior, I just knew how much he wanted to go to state. I just wanted to play as well as I could to help him get there,” Krafft said. “I felt like my serve was really on today and normally when that happens that’s a big plus for us. Alan is very strong at the net and when I can make it tough on our opponents with my serve, he’s going to have a lot of opportunities to put shots away.

“I felt like we played pretty well in this tournament and hopefully we can continue to play well next week.”

Metamora won the team title with 28 points, with Princeton (19) second, Morris (18) third, L-P (16) fourth, Ottawa (8) sixth, and Streator (4) seventh.

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