Team Effort Leads Tennis to Improbable Second-Place Finish at State
Jesuit got at least one point from all three of its doubles teams and both of its singles players to claim the runner-up spot at the LHSAA Division 1 State Championships on April 23 & 24 in Monroe.
The second place finish was a successful end to what was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Jesuit tennis. The Jays lost three key seniors from last year’s state runner-up squad, including state doubles champions Trey Hamlin and Jack Steib. With Brother Martin (who defeated the Jays in a dual meet two weeks prior to state) and a loaded St. Paul’s team both looking to make a run at defending state champion Catholic High, most folks had Jesuit projected for a fourth-place finish.
But somebody forgot to tell senior Andrew Ryan and junior Colin Meyer what they were expected to do. The Jays’ Line 2 doubles team upset a seeded regional champion from Byrd in the first round, dispatched their opponents from Dutchtown in the second round, and then capped off their improbable run with a crucial quarterfinal victory over Brother Martin’s Line 2 doubles team. Ryan and Meyer’s run would end in the semifinals at the hands of St. Paul’s Line 1 doubles team.
As a team, Jesuit finished with 9 points, behind champion Catholic High (Baton Rouge) and tied with Brother Martin for second place.
“Claiming a share of that trophy doesn’t happen without a clutch performance from Andrew and Colin,” said Coach Travis Smith. “That Brother Martin team had beaten them just two weeks earlier, and pretty handily at that. But Colin and Andrew were locked in today. That was the best they’ve played all year, by far.”
A last-minute adjustment by Smith may have been the spark that the pair needed. After struggling in the aforementioned district championship dual meet against Brother Martin and then losing to another Brother Martin team at regionals a week later, Meyer and Ryan were reeling a bit. Smith opted to switch Ryan to the backhand serve return side.
“Colin had been there all year because he has an unbelievable backhand service return,” explained Smith. “But Andrew’s confidence in his forehand was shaky, and the switch allowed him to hit more backhands.
“It didn’t hurt that Colin was in the zone from both sides,” laughed Smith.
Meyer and Ryan weren’t the only Blue Jays with breakthrough performances at state. Dex Webster and Cole LaCour, Jesuit’s Line 3 doubles team, weren’t even a sure thing to advance to state a month ago. They had to survive an intrasquad playoff with three other teams just to claim Jesuit’s Line 3 designation. Then, they struggled at regionals. But the junior duo put it all together when it counted most, knocking off a regional runner-up from St. Paul’s in a first round upset, and then cruising into the quarterfinals with a second round win over Byrd’s Line 2 team before being bested by Catholic’s Line 1 team, who would go on to win the title without losing a set.
“I’m so happy for Cole and Dex,” said Smith. “I love it when guys play their best when it counts the most, and that’s exactly what they did.”
Jesuit’s Line 1 doubles team, meanwhile, was slotted into a brutal part of the draw. Seniors Christian Lacoste and Lee Blosser ended up facing Catholic’s Line 2 after a first round win over Destrehan. The Bears were a bit too strong, coming away with a straight set win in that match.
In singles play, sophomore standout Jojo Sandoz won matches against opponents from Barbe and Walker to advance to the quarterfinals, where he lost to Sulphur’s Line 1 player.
Sophomore James Henican, meanwhile, won a first round match against Fontainebleau before losing to Catholic’s Line 2 singles player in the Round of Sixteen.