• Wounded Pats hang on

  • The Truman boys tennis team couldn’t have started the postseason with a worse omen.

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  • The Truman boys tennis team couldn’t have started the postseason with a worse omen.
    Going into their first-round Class 2 District 14 contest against Fort Osage, the Patriots found out that senior No. 1 singles player Zach Felz was only going to be able to play doubles because of a leg injury he hurt playing soccer. Considering three other varsity regulars were unavailable, it looked like Truman’s district run might be an abbreviated one.
    The Pats didn’t cower from the challenge, though, and managed to eke out a 5-3 win Monday at Santa Fe Trail Park to advanced to today’s semifinal against top-seeded Blue Springs South.
    “It was frustrating with so many guys being out, but pretty cool that the rest of the team didn’t complain about it and just said, ‘OK, let’s do the best we can do and win,” Truman coach Willis Blinzler said.
    Truman’s Jared Welch topped Codie Williams 7-6, 6-4, Sam Heacock bested Austin Chapman 6-4, 6-2, Jake Hayward downed David Hankins 6-1, 6-2 and Jake Ritchel scored a 6-0, 6-1 decision over Brad Thatcher. Felz and Wagner then teamed for a decisive 6-4, 6-4 doubles win over Tyler Smith and Williams.
    Smith garnered a 6-2, 6-4 triumph over Wagner and Jared Branstetter recorded a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Chris Jewell for the Fort singles wins. Hankins and Branstetter then clipped Hayward and Ritchel 6-3, 6-2.
    “We’ve played three times now, and this is the best we’ve played them,” Indians coach Jordan Groves said. “... This was definitely better than the last two attempts. I think the guys can feel a lot better about this.”
    After going 4-2 in singles, the Pats dropped the first doubles match. With the pressure tightening, Felz and Wagner scored a clutch win despite Felz’ injury.
    “We’re very thankful he played,” Blinzler said. “He just couldn’t do singles. He just couldn’t do it. But in doubles you don’t have to move around as much and he played to his strength. He kept the ball deep, he kept it away from players and set Nick up at the net all day long.”
    Wagner also embraced his reversed role. Typically, the Pats will rely on Felz to carry the brunt of the course work in doubles play. Monday, that fell on Wagner, who Blinzler said the squad might turn to next season to fill Felz’ void.
    “Zach’s our only senior so when he leaves, we’ll all have to move up and so this was just a look at next year’s team,” Wagner said. “I felt, given my situation, I played pretty decent.”
    Added Ritchel: “I think we all stepped up. ... District play definitely boosts our drive and everything. I think going into doubles neck and neck kind of pushed it a little more.”
    Page 2 of 2 - LEE’S SUMMIT NORTH 5, WILLIAM CHRISMAN: The Broncos swept Chrisman Monday at Lee’s Summit North to advance to today’s semifinal against Blue Springs.
    Follow Shawn Garrison on Twitter: @GarrisonEJC

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