It was a successful weekend for the Creston/O-M boys tennis team.
On Friday in district play at Norwalk, the Panthers finished in a second-place tie with Norwalk behind Ballard. Through a tiebreaker based on a consolation victory by Creston/O-M, the Panthers earned the right to host preliminary substate action Saturday morning against Norwalk.
In tough conditions at the SWCC courts, with sustained 25 mph northwest wind, and gusts to 40 mph, the Panthers sailed to the dual victory, clinching it with five straight singles wins. It ended when Ryan Cook defeated freshman Jackson Wright, 6-4, 7-5 at No. 6 singles.
The remaining singles match on the court, involving Jacob Caviness, and the doubles matches under way at the time were all halted as the Panthers had clinched the 5-0 win with victories by Colby Taylor, Bryce McIlravy, Garret Taylor, Adam Bochart and Cook.
“It was great to host, and to come away with a 5-0 win is even better,” Creston/O-M coach Kevin Cooper said. “For the second year in a row we have advanced to substate, and that is a great feeling.”
It will be the second straight year for the Panthers to advance to the substate round of four teams. Last year, Creston/O-M beat Red Oak and then fell to Boone in the finals.
This year, Cooper sees the substate round as “wide open” as the Panthers chase their first team state tournament berth in 25 years.
Creston/O-M opens at 9 a.m. Saturday against Hawkeye 10 rival Atlantic at Norwalk, while Red Oak takes on Ballard. Atlantic and Ballard had byes last weekend as district champions. Atlantic swept the doubles play in outpointing Red Oak, which advanced singles stars Pete Walker and Jordan Nelson to state.
The last time a Creston team won substate and competed in the state semifinals was the 1988 squad that lost to Le Mars, 8-1. That Panther lineup coached by Ron Johnson consisted of John Brentnall, Aaron Bjorn, Terry Brentnall, Justin Johnson, Andres D’Eramo and Clark Kuntz.
Doubles to state
Advancing to Class 1A doubles competition at state from Creston/O-M are Colby Taylor and McIlravy. The Panther duo finished second to Norwalk juniors Austin LaVelle and Grant Wright in district play Friday.
To reach the finals, Taylor and McIlravy defeated the Ballard duo of Kordel Lettow and Taylor Bridgewater, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3 tiebreaker). That Ballard pairing had defeated Taylor and McIlravy earlier this season at the Saydel tournament.
“It was an amazing day for Colby and Bryce,” Cooper said. “I am so proud of them for all they have accomplished over the past four years. It’s great to see them accomplish their goal. They were close to being district champions, but lost a very close match at the end.”
The other Creston/O-M doubles entry of Garret Taylor and Adam Bochart also made a strong run, finishing third. They competed well in the semifinals against Norwalk’s championship team of Lavelle and Wright, losing 6-3, 6-3.
“Garret and Adam were the talk of the tournament after upsetting the No. 4 seeded doubles team from Boone,” Cooper said. “They played a huge role in us advancing as a team. They were also a big part in Boone not advancing to preliminary substate for the first time since 1996.”
Cook went 1-1 in singles play to earn two valuable team points. Caviness also represented Creston/O-M in singles, drawing the No. 3 seed in his opener.
State competition for Taylor and McIlravy will be May 24-25 at Byrne’s Park Tennis Complex in Waterloo. They are the first competitors at state since Tony Hartman in singles in 2006.
Advancing from Atlantic are the doubles teams of seniors Tyler Fischer and Noah Welter, and juniors Jake Arneson and Adam Weiser.
Team preliminary substate
Saturday at Creston
Creston 5, Norwalk 0
Singles — Colby Taylor (Cr) def. Austin LeVelle (N), 7-5, 6-4; Bryce McIlravy (Cr) def. Grant Wright (N), 6-3, 6-3; Garret Taylor (Cr) def. Austin Grant (N), 6-1, 6-1; Adam Bochart (Cr) def. Jake Koul (N), 6-0, 6-4; Ryan Cook (Cr) def. Jackson Wright (N), 6-4, 7-5; Jacob Caviness trailing 6-2, 4-6, 2-5 when match ended.
Class 1A District
Friday at Norwalk
Singles — Austin Grant (Norwalk) def. Jacob Caviness (Cr), 6-0, 6-3.
Ryan Cook (Cr) def. Hunter White (Saydel), 3-6, 6-2, 6-2; Cody Fausch (Ballard) def. Cook (Cr), 6-1, 6-4.
Doubles — Colby Taylor-Bryce McIlravy (Cr) def. Wyatt Hauge-Landon Schussler (North Polk), 6-2, 6-4; Taylor-McIlravy (Cr) def. Jacob Newman-Jackson Wright (Norwalk), 6-3, 6-0; Taylor-McIlravy (Cr) def. Kordel Lettow-Taylor Bridgewater (Ballard), 6-4, 7-6 (7-3); Austin Levelle-Grant Wright (Norwalk) def. Taylor-McIlravy (Cr), 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, for first place.
Garret Taylor-Adam Bochart (Cr) def. Nick Stumbo-Nate Kriegel (Boone), 6-4, 7-6 (12-10 tiebreaker); Taylor-Bochart (Cr) def. Ryan Allen-Joe Kruger (Ballard), 6-3, 6-3; Austin Lavelle-Grant Wright (Norwalk) def. Taylor-Bochart (Cr), 6-3, 6-3; Taylor-Bochart (Cr) def. Lettow-Bridgewater (Ballard), 6-2, 6-2, for third place.
(First and second place finishers advance to state tournament.)