LADUE • MICDS and Pembroke Hill have been bitter rivals on the tennis courts for many years.
So it was a strange sight indeed Saturday when six members of the Pembroke Hill squad congratulated Charlie Curtis of MICDS after his championship in the singles division of the Tournament of Champions at MICDS.
They may well have felt good for Curtis, but the hand shaking was also because Curtis' thrilling three-set win over Ford Zitsch of Rock Bridge gave the Raiders the team title by one point.
Pembroke Hill won with 55 points. Rock Bridge finished second with 54 and would have won the team title with a Zitsch win.
The 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5) win by Curtis kept the Rams senior undefeated for the season. Despite the perfect record, Curtis was only seeded fourth in the tournament, which is the most prestigious regular season tournament in the state.
Curtis lost just two games in his first two wins over Ryan Wille of Parkway Central and Joey Dulle of Clayton. He then defeated the top seed, Will Welte of Pembroke Hill, 6-3, 6-1 in the semifinals before his win over Zitsch, who was seeded second, in the championship.
"I really didn't care too much about the seed," Curtis said. "I just want to be playing well at this time of the season and it felt great to have wins over Welte and Zitsch. I had lost to Welte in the winter and lost to Zitsch in this tournament last year."
Curtis finished third in last year's Tournament of Champions. He assured himself of a better finish with the impressive win over Welte in the semifinals. The championship match had drama right up until the final point of the third set tiebreaker.
Curtis never trailed in the tiebreaker after scoring the first two points. But he also never led by more than two and won on his second match point when Ford hit a forehand into the net. It was a good thing since Curtis had broken a string earlier in the point.
"That was the third string I broke in this tournament," Curtis said. "I would have had to use my dad's racket. It is my old racket and it is terrible."
Curtis recently committed to Trinity University in Texas. He looks forward to his final month as a high school player.
"This tournament gives me a lot of confidence," Curtis said. "It shows what I am capable of doing."
Curtis' teammate, Teddy Jones, also advanced to the semifinals after his upset win over third-seeded Michael Davis of Parkway Central. Jones, who was seeded sixth, lost a tough match to Zitsch 6-3, 7-6 in the semifinals.
Kirkwood's Robert Conroy and Josh Waite were not even seeded in the top eight in doubles in the tournament. But the Pioneers defeated three seeded teams to reach the finals before they lost in three sets to the top seed.
Conroy and Waite opened with a 7-6, 2-6, 6-4 win over second-seeded Jake Lee and Mac Rechan of Clayton. They followed that with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over seventh-seeded Brad Neunuebel and Sam Wells of Rockhurst and a 6-7, 7-5, 7-4 triumph over sixth-seeded Bailey Merkel and Cameron Smith of Westminster Christian Academy in the semifinals.
The Pioneers duo battled until the end in the championship match, losing to the top seed, Jimmy Hunter and Joe LaRose of Rock Bridge, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.
MICDS had the top area finish in the team tournament as the Rams finished third behind Pembroke Hill and Rock Bridge.