Eagles earn first at Joplin Invitational

Apr. 19—The Joplin Eagles boys tennis team (10-1) finished 3-1 in duals to capture first place at the Joplin Invitational on Friday at Joplin High School.

The Eagles lost their first dual of the season — albeit in a condensed tourney format — but defeated Branson head-to-head to win the tourney. Branson also finished 3-1, securing second place. Grain Valley finished 2-2 for third.

In its first dual of the day, the Eagles defeated Glendale (3-13) 5-0.

Junior Leif Garrity defeated Glendale's Rocco Macchi 6-1 in their No. 1 singles match. In the No. 2 singles, Ben Converse followed with a 6-0 win over Joplin teammate Noah Anderson, who subbed in for a short-handed Glendale squad.

Taylor Schlag defeated Joplin teammate Griffan Keller (another sub for Glendale) 6-2 in their No. 3 singles match. Keller suffered a high ankle sprain in his third match of the day, playing for the Falcons against Willard.

Last year's doubles team of Adam Badr and Josiah Hazlewood reunited for the first time this season and beat Glendale's Jack Barnes and Zane Hancock 6-2 in their No. 1 doubles match.

In the No. 2 doubles match, Oscar KIenzle and Chapel Braman outlasted Glendale's Tyler Rohrbaugh and Grayson Stenger in a 7-6 (7-1) tiebreaker.

Braman, the team's lone senior and a four-year player for Joplin High School, talked about the team's success this year.

"It's a stark difference compared to every other year," Braman said. "Going into this year, we knew we were going to be strong, but we didn't realize just how strong we were really going to be."

In the second round of the day, the Eagles earned a 3-2 win over Branson (13-6-1) in a match that ultimately determined the tourney winner.

Garrity fell 6-0 to Branson's Ben Merrifield in the No. 1 singles match. Joplin's Converse beat Branson's Preston Volz 6-0 in No. 2 singles and Schlag was a 6-2 winner over Zach Zander.

Badr/Hazlewood beat Branson's Tyler Borger and Hayden Pead 6-4 in the No. 1 doubles tilt, but Kienzle and Braman fell 6-3 to the Pirate's duo of Cash Brown and Josh Davis.

Assistant coach Richard Perry said he was impressed with the play of Badr and Hazlewood on Friday.

"They haven't played together since last season," Perry said. "The fact that they were able to come in and win all those crucial matches was good."

Joplin also claimed a 3-2 win in their match against Grain Valley (8-8-2.)

Garrity fell 6-4 to Grain Valley's Ben Drinkwater, but Converse put the Eagles back on the winning track with a 6-1 win over Carter Williams in their No. 2 matchup.

Shlag bested Blake Galvan 6-1 in their No. 3 singles match and Badr/Hazlewood were 6-4 victors in the No. 1 doubles match against Trace Compton and John Cassidy. In the No. 2 doubles match, Grain Valley's Campbell Childers and Riley Spencer defeated Kienzle/Braman 6-3.

In the final team dual of the day, the Eagles fell 3-2 to a Willard team (7-5) they had defeated 7-2 in a nine-match format on Wednesday.

Willard's Seth Miller defeated Garrity 6-4 in their No. 1 singles match. Converse suffered his first setback of the day in a 6-0 loss to Gabe Hernandez at No. 2, but Shlag stayed perfect on the day with a 6-4 win over John Lepescu in the No. 3 singles contest.

"Taylor rocked the day," Perry said. "He did amazing today. Everyone else was solid today too. Ben (Converse) at No. 2 singles had some really good performances as well. Overall, we had a pretty good day, we mixed it (the pairings) up a lot and did some things we normally don't do, but the players responded really well to us making those adjustments right before the tournament. I was really happy with their ability to adapt to the situation."

Badr/Hazlewood finished 4-0 on the day with a 6-2 win over Willard's Christian Ryan and Kooper Shipman in the No. 1 doubles match, but Kienzle/Braman fell 6-4 in the No. 2 doubles match against Gabe Cruise and Jayger Berry.

Eagle head coach Aaron Stump talked about his team after the final match.

"The dedication these guys bring day in and day out shows in the way they are playing," Stump said.

The Eagles return to the courts at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, when they host Webb City at Joplin High School.