Pioneers returning to final four
For the first time without Lawrence Eyre as head coach, the Pioneer boys’ tennis team earned a trip to the Class 1A state team tournament with a pair of victories over Grinnell and Pella Saturday at the M.U.M. tennis courts in Fairfield.
The Maharishi School boys handled Grinnell 5-0 in the substate semifinal and took care of Pella 5-2 in the final to advance to the state tournament for a record ninth consecutive time. Previously, the Pioneers were tied with Dubuque Wahlert at eight straight appearances.
The Pioneers, who qualified for the final four 15 times in Eyre’s 25 years, are now 1-for-1 under new first-year head coach Steve Briggs. They’ll be looking to improve upon last season’s fourth-place finish when the state final four opens May 28 in Urbandale.
On Saturday, the Pioneers’ No. 1 player, sophomore Sam Stickels, opened the day with a 6-0, 6-0 dismantling of Grinnell’s Will Hamilton, who finished sixth in the state in 2012. Stickels then followed the win with an equally impressive two-set victory (6-0, 6-1) over Pella’s David Lapthorn before clinching the team match at No. 1 doubles with partner Raphael Gelfand (6-2, 6-3).
Also vs. Grinnell, the Pioneers picked up wins from Solaris Nite (6-2, 6-0), Surya Sawhney (6-0, 6-0), Chandre Morales (6-0, 6-1) and Avery Mullenneaux (6-0, 6-1). Gelfand led his No. 2 singles match 6-3, 3-1 when the Pioneers clinched the dual.
Against the Little Dutch, Gelfand earned a 6-0, 7-5 win in singles play prior to closing the dual out in doubles alongside Stickels. Morales and Mullenneaux both won, as well. Morales claimed a 6-1, 6-4 win at No. 5, and Mullenneaux posted a 6-4, 7-5 victory.
Before the Pioneers finish off their season at the state final four, Stickels, Morales and Gelfand will travel to Waterloo for individual state Friday-Saturday.
MSAE def. Grinnell 5-0
1. Stickels (MSAE) def. Hamilton (G) 6-0, 6-0
2. Gelfand (MSAE) vs. Rudolph (G) 6-3, 3-1
3. Nite (MSAE) def. Smith (G) 6-2, 6-0
4. Sawhney (MSAE) def. Durbin (G) 6-0, 6-0
5. Morales (MSAE) def. Lang (G) 6-0, 6-1
6. Mullenneaux (MSAE) def. Benning-Shorb (G) 6-0, 6-1
MSAE def. Pella 5-2
1. Stickels (MSAE) def. Lapthorn (P) 6-0, 6-1
2. Gelfand (MSAE) def. Roozeboom (P) 6-0, 7-5
3. Schemm (P) def. Nite (MSAE) 7-6, 4-6, 7-5
4. Palmer (P) def. Sawhney (MSAE) 6-3, 4-6, 6-2
5. Morales (MSAE) def. Pettit (P) 6-1, 6-4
6. Mullenneaux (MSAE) def. Van Maanan (P) 6-4, 7-5
1. Stickels/Gelfand (MSAE) def. Lapthorn/Roozeboom (P) 6-2, 6-3