Defending Class 1 state champion Evan Erb completed the first on his road back to the state tournament.
Erb, a sophomore, defeated teammates junior Chase Nwamu 6-2, 6-4 in the District 5 singles tournament that was played at MICDS.
Both Rams move on the Sectional 3 tournament that will be played Tuesday (May 14). Erb will be playing St. Dominic’s Joshua Miller. Nwamu will play St. Dominic’s Derek Fesser.
MICDS coach Patrick Huewe said his two players had a good match for the district title.
“We’re lucky that they are two of the best players in the state and we hope they will have the opportunity to meet again at state,” Huewe said. “That means they would both make it to the finals.”
Both Erb and Nwamu will take 10-6 record into their sectional matches.
The Rams won the District 5 team championship. MICDS defeated Priory 5-2 to claim the district title.
Huewe said the Rams played well this season before postseason action began.
“We had good results and our only losses were to (Class 2) state champs Rock Bridge, John Burroughs, and Trinity Louisville,” Huewe said. “The guys have been improving all season and we’re hopeful to that our best tennis is at sectionals and state.”
MICDS finished with a record of 9-3 in dual matches. The Rams recorded a second-place finish in the Metro League Tournament and finished in second place at the MICDS Tournament of Champions.
“The TOC was especially satisfying since we placed ahead of Pembroke Hill, Rockhurst, and SLUH, three of the top teams in the state,” Huewe said.
MICDS was seeded first going into district play. Priory was the No. 2 seed.
“We expected to end up playing Priory and we did,” Huewe said. “The last time we were the No. 1 seed, we also had to play Priory at home in the district finals and lost 5-4 in a heartbreaker. This time we handled the pressure much better and executed our game plan well.”
MICDS blanked Whitfield 5-0 in a semifinal match.
“This was a good chance to give some of the new players a taste of postseason tennis,” Huewe said.
That set up the match with Priory for the district crown.
“We were evenly matched with them and it was the fourth time we faced them during the season,” Huewe said. “We had beaten them 6-3 earlier this season and finished ahead of them in the Metro League and Tournament of Champions, so we were very familiar with their players.
“They showed us a different look in their doubles lineup with their No. 1 player Sean Finnie playing No. 2 doubles and they got an early 2-1 lead. Chase Nwamu and Evan Erb won at No. 1 and then they both won their singles matches quickly to put us up 3-2. Justin Jan added to the lead with a win at No. 3 to put us up 4-2. Freshman Brian Tokarczyk clinched the match at No. 6, but not before being pushed to three sets to seal the win. Priory was extremely deep and pushed us in doubles and singles. We split sets with them at No. 4 through No. 6 so it was nice to finish the match.”
Huewe liked what he saw from the Rams in the win.
“They played well and were extremely supportive of each other both on and off,” Huewe said. “It was great to see them rush the court after we won. This is the first boys district title for us since 2016 and a totally new experience for this group. None of the top six players were on that 2016 team and we had lost two straight district title matches (to Priory and John Burroughs). It made winning this year a little bit extra special.”
It was the 11th district championship under Huewe.
In sectional set for 9 a.m. Saturday, the Rams face St. Dominic.
“We’ve played them in sectionals before and they are competitive,” Huewe said.
The winner moves on the a quarterfinal match against either Kirksville or Helias.
“It’s important to keep improving with each match we play in the postseason so we won’t take them for granted,” Huewe said. “We have to focus on our preparation, energy, and staying focused on our game plan, especially in doubles.”