By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
Joplin High School is taking the same entries to the boys state tennis tournament this year as last year — senior Jeremy Lynn in singles and juniors Luke Frogge and Edran Ali in doubles.
Both advanced to the second day of competition a year ago, with Lynn finishing fifth and Frogge-Ali tying for seventh place.
Their quests for state titles begin at 10:15 a.m. today at the Cooper Tennis Complex. Lynn faces Luc Ginoux of Camdenton in the first round, and Frogge-Ali are paired against Anirudh Gururag-Ryan Fidell of Parkway Central.
Lynn, as a high finisher the previous year, is placed on the bracket in the spot of the No. 3 seed behind Dylan Steffens of Rockwood Summit, last year’s runner-up, and Alex Pozo of St. Louis CBC, who beat Lynn 3-6, 6-2, 11-9 (third-set tiebreaker because of high heat index) in last year’s quarterfinals before losing to Steffens in the semifinals.
This season Lynn has won 32 of 33 matches, losing only to Michael “Mac” Rechan of Clayton 8-6 in Columbia. He has not played his opponent today as the Eagles and fellow Ozark Conference Lakers did not meet during the season.
“Jeremy is a lot more mentally tough this year than last year,” Eagles coach Sean McWilliams said. “He’s a lot more composed on the tennis court. He seems to always have a plan going into a match on goals he sets for himself and things he wants to see out of his game that day. He puts together some things he knows he can control, and he goes out and tries to execute them.
“He’s gotten a long stronger physically as well. All around, he’s a stronger player than last year, and he knows those other guys have been working, too. He’s worked hard in the offseason. He has some high goals for this weekend.”
This is Lynn’s third appearance in the state tennis tournament. He placed third in the Class 1 tournament as a freshman at Thomas Jefferson.
Frogge-Ali, 20-3 this season, bounced back from a first-round loss last season to win twice before being ousted in the consolation semis.
“They are a lot more consistent,” McWilliams said. “Both worked hard in the offseason.
“Luke is definitely more physically fit. He’s a smarter player out on the court this year. He has really worked tremendously hard to improve his game, and all around .. there is not anything he hasn’t improved since last season. He spent a lot of hours on the tennis court, and it shows.
“Edran has always had big strokes, especially a big forehand but it was not always around the court. He worked hard in the offseason and got on the court to improve his consistency.”
Richard Perry of Carthage also qualified for the Class 2 singles bracket. His first match today is against Jack Evans of Rockhurst.
The Class 1 tournament, which begins today at 9 a.m., includes two Big 8 Conference entries.
Jarod Davis of Mount Vernon, a state tournament participant in doubles last year, plays William Sistrunk of Greenwood in singles.
District doubles champion Ben Coltharp-Andrew Gloshen of Carl Junction open their tournament against Seth Koch-Dylan Elbi of St. Pius X (Festus).
Semifinal matches in the winners’ and losers’ brackets will be played at 9 a.m. Saturday, and the championship matches are set for 1 p.m.