Boys tennis: Marmion's Graft reaches state semifinals
Players endured three rains delays which lasted five hours before getting on the courts on day No. 2 of the boys state tennis tournament.
But once there, Marmion Academy freshman Ben Graft is nearing the finish line.
The Cadets' top man won all three of his matches on Friday, including his quarterfinal contest with Hudson Shaw of Metamora, 6-2, 6-1, to advance into the Class 1A semifinals Saturday morning at tourney host Hersey against top seed Nicholas Patrick from Rock Island Alleman.
"Ben played and moved very well today. He was just more consistent than his opponents," said Cadets coach Brian Cole.
Seniors Jackson Schuetzle (Crystal Lake South, 24-6) and Luke Welker from Burlington Central, both 1A state medal winners a year ago, will have to go after another medal in the consolation bracket following second round defeats.
Jacobs senior Thomas Nelson was hoping to play his Marquette University roommate, Blake Roegner of Naperville Central, in the final. However, both were bounced out of the front draw late Friday night.
Nelson (36-3), fifth a year ago in 2A, fell 6-4, 6-2 to 3-4 seed Mujtaba Ali-Khan (20-1) from Hinsdale Central. Roegner dropped a straight set affair to 5-8 seed Deven Carse (Barrington, 26-2) who last weekend beat Nelson in their sectional semifinal in three sets.
"It was a long day or waiting. We got here at 7:45, and didn't go on until well after noon, but when we got (out) things were cool and dry, so it felt good to be playing after just one round yesterday," said Nelson.
Nelson and his mates and the rest of the field are chasing Hinsdale Central which has a commanding lead (40-26) over New Trier followed by Barrington, Fremd and Hersey. In Class 1A, reigning state champion Latin is in control over Benet Academy, 30-21.
Play will begin for everyone at 8 a.m. Saturday.