Joplin tennis advances to district championship

May 8—The top-seeded Joplin Eagles boys' tennis team (14-1) earned a spot in the Class 3 District 5 championship match with a 5-0 semifinal win over No. 4 Ozark (14-8) on Tuesday at Joplin High School.

Joplin's Adam Badr and Leif Garrity found themselves at an early deficit, but rallied for an 8-6 win in the No. 1 doubles match against Ozark's Connor Kitchin and Luke Morris.

"We were down early in this match, but Adam and Leif stepped up their game late to pull off the win," JHS head coach Aaron Stump said.

In the No. 2 doubles match, Joplin's Ben Converse and Taylor Schlag beat Ozark's Stephen Metcalf and Brett Kail 8-2.

In the closest match of the day, Eagles Josiah Hazlewood and Oscar Kienzle outlasted Ozark's Nicholas Psarev and Ashton Hitt in a 9-8 (7-4) No. 3 doubles tiebreaker match.

Garrity defeated Metcalf 6-0, 6-3 in their No. 2 singles match.

Stump praised Garrity after the match.

"Leif played an incredible match here," Stump said. "He didn't give up on any points and hustled to make some seemingly impossible shots happen with finesse."

Ben Converse wrapped up the match win for the Eagles with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Ozark's Morris.

"Ben hit some powerful shots and played consistently to win his singles match," Stump said of Converse.

With the match win sealed, the other singles matches were stopped in progress, with Kienzle holding a 6-3, 4-1 lead over Kail in the No. 6 singles. In the No. 4 singles, Hazlewood was tied at 6-6 with Ozark's Psarev, and Badr was 2-6, 5-3 against Ozark's Kitchin in the No. 1 singles match.

Schlag trailed Hitt 4-6, 1-2 when the match was halted.

Joplin is scheduled to face No. 2 seed Kickapoo for the district title at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.