BOONE — For the second year in a row, Creston/O-M will be sending an entry to the Boys State Tennis Tournament.
Last year, Colby Taylor and Bryce McIlravy advanced as a doubles team, while Garret Taylor and Adam Bochart made a strong run for a second doubles berth.
This year, Taylor got over the hump as a singles player, taking second place at Thursday’s Class 1A district meet hosted by Boone High School.
Taylor was runner-up to North Polk sophomore Nathan Greiner, reaching the finals on a bye and two victories.
Taylor will participate in the Class 1A state singles competition May 30-31 at Byrne’s Park Tennis Complex in Waterloo.
Two other southwest Iowa singles qualifiers are district champ Jordan Nelson of Red Oak and runner-up Philip Meier of Shenandoah.
Advancing in doubles are Dedric Kettwick and Austin Smith of Clarinda and the Glenwood duo of Cole Peckham and Max Chavez.
On the strength of Taylor’s march to the finals and one victory each from the doubles teams of Chantz Davidson-Triston Davidson and Ryan Kucera-Tyler Waddingham, the Panthers topped North Polk for third place and earned a spot in Saturday’s preliminary substate dual against Clarke at Osceola.
Boone gets a preliminary bye by edging Clarke for the title, 23-22, and Creston/O-M’s total of 12 points was four more than North Polk, setting up the Clarke-Creston/O-M match for the right to advance to substate play the following weekend.
Last year, the senior-laden Panthers advanced to substate and defeated Atlantic before getting nosed out by Red Oak for a team state berth.
At Red Oak Thursday, Shenandoah finished first and earned the bye, while Glenwood and Red Oak were second and third, respectively, and will meet this weekend.
Creston/O-M coach Kevin Cooper was ecstatic about the team’s advancement as well as Taylor’s individual effort, which had been a goal since he spent countless hours on the SWCC courts all summer.
“What an amazing accomplishment for Garret,” Cooper said. “I couldn’t be more proud of him. He has really pushed himself to get better in the past six months and that has shown on the court. He has turned some heads this year over how much he has improved.”
Taylor received the No. 2 seed and had two dominating performances in beating Clarke’s Holden Hewitt 6-2, 6-0 and Paul Solomon of Boone 6-2, 6-1. Solomon had upset the tournament’s third-seeded player.
Greiner then swept Taylor, 6-2, 6-1.
“Greiner has been training at the Ames Tennis Center and he really hits some solid winners,” Cooper said. “Garret had lost to him 10-5 before, so we knew it would be tough, but that he had a chance.”
At Saturday’s preliminary substate, the Panthers will benefit from the services of No. 6 player Seth Maitlen, who was participating in state qualifying track Thursday. So, Creston/O-M had only one singles entry and two doubles teams.
“Today was a great experience for both of our doubles teams,” Cooper said. “They each contributed three points by winning a match. Our doubles teams are a large part of why we qualified to continue as a team.”
As of press time, the time of Saturday morning’s preliminary substate dual between Clarke and Creston/O-M had not been determined.
Boys Class 1A District
Team scoring — 1. Boone 23; 2. Osceola Clarke 22; 3. Creston/O-M 12; 4. North Polk 8.
Singles — Garret Taylor (Cr) received bye; Taylor (Cr) def. Holden Hewitt (Clarke) 6-2, 6-0; Garret Taylor (Cr) def. Paul Solomon (Boone) 6-2, 6-1; Nathan Greiner (North Polk) def. Garret Taylor (Cr) 6-2, 6-1 for first place.
Doubles — Chantz Davidson-Triston Davidson (Cr) def. Shamus Card-Shawn Hemmingsen (Audubon) 6-1, 6-2; Collin Morris-Jared Jamison (Clarke) def. Davidson-Davidson (Cr), 6-0, 6-0.
Doubles — Ryan Kucera-Tyler Waddingham (Cr) def. Kyle Polson-Dustin Mennenoh (Audubon) 6-0, 6-0; Eddie Smith-Danny Anderson (Boone) def. Kucera-Waddingham (Cr) 6-1, 6-0.