By Brenden West Assistant Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — As long as the rain held off, the Mississippi Athletic Conference tennis tournament was going to happen. Even with his team tied for first place after day 1, Thursday’s unfavorable conditions yielded only slightly favorable results for Clinton coach David Moore.
Ryan Schroeder (No. 2), Tony Hurlburt (No. 4), Vamsi Marla (No. 6) and the No. 1 doubles team Schroeder and Jacob Kruse all still were in the mix heading into today’s championship round in Bettendorf. Meanwhile, Kruse (No. 1), Cody Nolan (No. 3), Evan Hood (No. 5) and the Nos. 2 and 3 doubles teams had chances to earn points in third-place matches.
However, if either Bettendorf or Pleasant Valley brings its A-game today, Clinton could find itself going home without a highly sought championship trophy. The Bulldogs are in the driver’s seat with a chance to win six of the nine tournament brackets, compared with Clinton’s four and the Spartans’ five.
In other words, the River Kings don’t control their own destiny. They’ll need help in order to claim a team MAC title.
“Overall, we’re just not playing great,” Moore said. “We’re playing OK. Our number 1 doubles played really well. Tony Hurlburt made a couple of really nice comebacks.”
But, he added that he felt his team underperformed.
Wind was clearly a factor, forcing some players to adjust their approaches. Each match featured high lobs and cut shots, with players utilizing gusts to make effective placement.
“It’s keeping some balls in court and other balls it’s taking away depending on which ways you’re going,” Moore said.
Clinton entered the tournament as either the first or second seed in seven of nine brackets. Kruse and Nolan were both upset in the semifinals. Meanwhile, the top-seeded No. 3 doubles team (Rohan Aggarwal and Evan Hood) lost in round two to Bettendorf.
The No. 1 doubles bracket seemed destined for another Bettendorf-Clinton rematch. Kruse and Schroeder dominated their opening match over North Scott’s Guillermo Rivas and Alex Cole 6-1, 6-1. Then, the Kings took down the Davenport Assumption duo of Stephen Nicknish and Michael Tjaden 6-4, 6-1.
On the other side of the bracket, Forrest Campbell and Bryce Brien of Bettendorf avoided an upset to 12th-seeded Muscatine in the first round, a match that required three sets to finish. Campbell and Brien were nearly swept out of the round, taking the second set to tiebreakers, but ultimately winning 12-10. The duo had an easier time in the semifinals, beating Pleasant Valley, 6-3, 6-3.
As anticipated, the No. 1 final is a rematch showdown of two of the top duos in the state. Campbell and Brien took the first contest in early April. Schroeder and Kruse got their revenge Saturday at their home invitational.