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Tournament of Champions

Chase Nwamu of MICDS hits a return during a singles semifinal match in Tournament of Champions tennis event on Friday, April 26, 2019 at MICDS in Ladue. Paul Kopsky, STLhighschoolsports.com

SPRINGFIELD, MO. — MICDS junior Chase Nwamu was hoping to make quick work of his opponent Friday in the singles quarterfinal round of Missouri Class 1 boys tennis state tournament at Cooper Tennis Complex.

Nwamu knew that was not going to be easy since he faced Luke Steiner of Springfield Catholic. Steiner finished fourth at state in singles last year and was 22-1 going into the quarterfinal.

But Nwamu got his wish, beating Steiner 6-2, 6-0 in just about an hour.

That was a far cry of Nwamu's first-round match, which took two hours and 40 minutes and was the last of the first-round matches to be completed. He finally finished off talented freshman Richie King of Barstow, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4.

“That first match was a grind for almost three hours,” Nwamu said. “It could have gone either way. I did want to get the other match over quickly, although you can't go into a match thinking that. I just wanted to play my best and get it over quickly. Now I can go to the hotel and take a nap.”

Nwamu's win was one of many for St. Louis area players, who dominated the first day of the individual portion of the state tournament.

John Burroughs, which defeated MICDS in the championship dual match of the Class 1 team tournament Thursday, will be involved in both Class 1 singles semifinals Saturday.

Nwamu will face John Burroughs sophomore Rory Sutter in one semifinal. They are the No. 2 singles players on each team and will be playing the fourth time this season.

Sutter won the first meeting in three sets, Nwamu won the second in straight sets and the third was in the team tournament. It was not finished, but Nwamu had a 6-4, 5-2 lead when the match was stopped when the Bombers got the clinching fifth win.

"Playing Rory requires a lot of focus," Nwamu said. "He is so consistent. It is a real challenge to play him. I have to make sure I keep calm."

The other Class 1 singles semifinal features the No. 1 singles players on each team between defending Class 1 singles champion Evan Erb of MICDS and John Burroughs' Akash Rajan. They have played three times this season and Rajan has a 2-1 advantage after a win in the team championship Thursday.

Both players were dominant in their two matches Friday. Rajan lost three total games while Erb lost four.

Three of the four semifinalists in Class 1 doubles also are area teams.

Sam Wang and Dav Nayak of John Burroughs will face Charles McEnery and Gary Gaertner of Priory in one semifinal. Both doubles teams had a pair of straight-set wins Friday.

Burroughs made it a clean sweep of semifinalists for the team as Adam Zhao and Thomas Dobbs won a thrilling quarterfinal match over Dylan Heck and Noah Hamlett of Thomas Jefferson Independent, 6-3, 7-6 (7). They will face Nathan Turtledove and Logan Stevens of Pembroke Hill, the lone non-St. Louis area team in the semifinals. Turtledove and Stevens prevented a Class 1 St. Louis sweep with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Priory's Sean Finnie and John Newell.

There was similar St. Louis success in Class 2, led by an impressive day for Lindbergh. Freshman Brian Kim advanced to the semifinals in singles while Layton Wille and Calvin Faris did so in doubles.

Kim lost just two games in his two victories.

"We didn't make it as a team, so it is fun to have success here," Kim said. "I felt coming in that I had no pressure since I was a freshman. High school tennis is all about fun and the sport is only a part of it. I thought everything was up to par."

Kim now has the huge challenge of facing CBC senior A.J. Woodman in the semifinals.

"He is the top seed and a great player," Kim said of Woodman. "I have hit a few times with him in clinics. I have absolutely no expectations against him. I am just going to try and make him work and whatever happens, happens."

Wille and Faris' 6-4, 6-3 win over Owen Mulcahy and Tyson Cowger of Liberty was extremely satisfying. Mulcahy and Cowger had beaten Wille and Faris last year and were on the top line of the Class 2 doubles bracket.

CBC advanced both a singles and doubles entry into the semifinals.

Woodman, a former state doubles champion who finished third in singles last year, had what might prove to be his toughest match in the quarterfinals. He defeated Zach Grueber of state champion Rock Bridge, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 in a rematch of the title match of the MICDS Tournament of Champions. Woodman remains undefeated and will bring a 26-0 record into his semifinal match against Kim.

Clayton Maack, who teamed with Woodman for the doubles title two years ago, advanced to the semifinals along with David Abilez with a 6-2, 6-2 quarterfinal win over Victor Stefanescu and Leo Da Silva of SLUH.

Ladue's Jeremy Ouyang is yet another area semifinalist. Ouyang won a pair of straight-set matches, including a 6-0, 6-2 win over SLUH's Nick Fischer in the quarterfinals.

The semifinals for both classes are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday in Springfield.

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