The Belleville East Invitational boys tennis tournament may be a magnet for rain, but it's also a showcase for Belleville West.
West swept all three doubles flights on Friday on the way to its third consecutive title at East and its seventh in eight years. The singles competition was rained out on Saturday.
The Maroons had 27 points to finish well ahead of runner-up Alton (19). Clayton (16), Belleville East (14) and Centralia (10) rounded out the top five in the 16-team event.
The doubles competition on Friday featured a mix of indoor and outdoor play, with matches concluding around 10 p.m. at Kings Point Sports Club in Belleville and St. Clair Indoor Tennis Club in O'Fallon.
"This is the third time in four years we haven't been able to finish the whole tournament," said East coach Dan Skaer. "This year was exactly the same as last year - we were able to squeeze in the doubles indoors and outdoors, but the singles got cancelled. Two years ago we actually had nice weather, but three years ago the singles was rained out also. We were rained out last weekend at the Moline Tournament, so we're hurting."
West was also among the teams scheduled to compete at Moline. West was able to play Quincy indoors Saturday at St. Clair and won 9-0 while East was slated to play Peoria Richwoods.
"Between Moline being cancelled and not being able to play the doubles at East, we've missed a lot of good tournament matches," said West coach Andy Brunner. "I've been coaching for 10 years and I bet it's rained at East for seven or eight of those years."
In the No. 1 doubles final, West's Max McLean and Blake Hollenbeck posted a 6-4, 6-3 win over Alton's Pat Spain and Pat Logan. James Stathis and Scott Segobiano won 6-1, 6-2 over Clayton's Joe Dulle and Jack Holds at No. 2 doubles while Sam Edwards and Hayden Quandt completed the sweep with a 6-7, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Alton's Matt Estes and Alex Willis at No. 3.
McLean, a senior, is recovering from a shoulder injury and was limited to playing doubles until Saturday, when he won 6-0, 6-0 over Quincy's No. 1 player. Stathis, who is also a senior, missed the Edwardsville Invitational and a pair of early dual matches with a broken wrist.
"We're coming out of that injury phase," Brunner said. "Friday at East was our first time this season with a full team. McLean was the No. 2 seed (in the top flight) at East, but that's only because he had no singles record this year. His match against Quincy showed that he's ready to play. Stathis is doing very well and he's healthy now.
"The early part of our season is heavy with dual matches and the later part is more heavy with tournaments, but our doubles sweep at East shows that we're progressing. The kids stepped up a level and that's what you hope for in tournaments."
On April 29-30, West will play in the Tom Pitchford Invitational. a 32-team tournament in suburban Chicago.
"That's a measuring stick for us because we could see a lot of those teams at the state tournament," Brunner said.
Belleville East, which will also play in the Pitchford tourney, had a solid performance in doubles on Friday. In the No. 2 flight, Lucas Birk and Josh Radil took third place. Ty Skaer and Scott Spitze finished fifth at No. 1 doubles while Aaron Skaer and Christian Hamilton placed fifth at No. 3.
"Our No. 1 doubles finished a little higher than we thought they would and our No. 2 and 3 teams did about what we expected," Dan Skaer said. "We're looking forward to the Pitchford tournament because it's a preview of state. We could be playing on a lot of the same courts and playing some of the same teams."
The Lancers are 8-7 in dual matches. In tournaments, they finished third among 16 teams at Bloomington, eighth among 32 teams at Edwardsville and sixth among 16 teams at Triad.