The St. Edmond boys tennis team earned a chance to defend their state championship by capturing another substate crown here Saturday.
The Gaels swept through Spencer (5-2) and Clear Lake (5-1) to advance once again to the 1A state tournament field. St. Edmond (12-2 overall) won the title a year ago, and placed second in 2012.
''I'm very proud of our guys and how they played,'' first-year head coach Tyler Philipsen said. ''Things got off to kind of a rocky start in both matches, but we showed some resilience and toughness in closing out the wins - especially in close sets.
State qualifiers for the St. edmond boys tennis team are, front row, left to right: John Eide and Jimmy Averill. Back: Tyler Philipsen, Ben Albright, Konrad Laufersweiler, Zachary Gailey and Patrick Hancock.
''Depth means everything in the postseason, and I really think we showed it (on Saturday). If you have a solid 4, 5 and 6, you can keep advancing. That's the difference. And we have that. We are an incredibly balanced lineup, and when you consider the experiences these kids have had the last two seasons, it's extremely beneficial. They know what it takes and how to do it.''
Patrick Hancock, Jimmy Averill, Ben Albright and Konrad Laufersweiler all swept through their two singles matches. Hancock is St. Edmond's No. 2 player; Averill, Albright and Laufersweiler are 4, 5 and 6 in the lineup.
''The scores were deceptive,'' Philipsen said. ''I know on the surface, it looks like we had an easy day with 5-2 and 5-1 victories. We were definitely pushed, but the kids grinded it out.''
ST. EDMOND 5, SPENCER 2
Singles - Alex Caldall, S, def. Zach Gailey, 6-2, 6-1; Patrick Hancock, SE, def. Brady Ploeger, 6-1, 6-3; Eduardo Tavani, S, def. John Eide, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3; Jimmy Averill, SE, def. Jack O'Hara, 6-2, 6-3; Ben Albright, SE, def. Joe Schirbroun, 6-1, 6-1; Konrad Laufersweiler, SE, def. Robert Stocko, 6-4, 6-4.
Doubles - Eide/Albright, SE, def. O'Hara/David Castillo, 6-1, 6-0.
ST. EDMOND 5, CLEAR LAKE 1
Singles - Sam Jones, CL, def. Zach Gailey, 6-2, 6-3; Patrick Hancock, SE, def. J.J. Theobald, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2; John Eide, SE, def. Andrew Davis, 6-0, 6-0; Jimmy Averill, SE, def. Jacob Peterson, 6-4, 6-3; Ben Albright, SE, def. Nick Chizek, 6-1, 6-1; Konrad Laufersweiler, SE, def. Ben Mason, 6-3, 6-2.
The Gaels will participate in individual state this Friday and Saturday in Waterloo. Team state is June 3 at Waveland Courts in Des Moines.