Knights Dominate At Districts

The boys tennis team took on some outstanding competition in Joplin on Friday, May 5, in the District 7 Tournament and won the District 7 team tournament at home on Wednesday, May 10. 
In doubles action, senior George Colombo and junior Sankeerth Gandhari received the #1 seed and proved worthy with an opening 6-0, 6-0 roll of a Belton pairing. In the all-important semifinal (the round that ensures the trip to STATE), George and Sankeerth beat a good Webb City team, 6-1, 6-1 moving them into the finals to await their opponent.

Meanwhile, seeded third in the bracket, senior Aaram Salam and freshman Sanjeev Adma rolled 6-0, 6-1 through another Belton pairing and in the key semifinal round took on the tough Thomas Jefferson.  Aaram and Sanjeev fought through a tough first set, 6-3, picked up the momentum, and finished off  TJ, 6-1 to capture their trip to state.  

This moved the guys into the finals to face none other than George and Aaram.  An all-Barstow doubles final that would guarantee both teams would make the state tourney resulted in a solid 6-3, 6-3 win by George and Sankeerth over Aaram and Sanjeev, finished off with hugs and high fives.  

Singles would be a tougher hill to climb. Shayan Ahmed also faced off in the first round against Belton and rolled to a 6-1, 6-1 win.  In the quarterfinals, Shayan faced the #4 seed, the #1 player from Webb City. Shayan played well in the first set but lost 4-6.  Shayan battled hard in the second set but came up just short 5-7.
Seeded #2, Liam Groden picked off a bye in the first round, and in the second beat a Neosho player 6-1, 6-1 moving him to the important semifinal round. Liam showed solid patience and played long points, moving his opponent side to side and picking solid times to come hard to the net to finish points.  Liam's opponent was the tough #3 seed from Thomas Jefferson with strong groundstrokes.  In the second set, Liam jumped out 3-0 but began to struggle a bit.  Liam went on to roll off three games in a row and secure his trip to state, 6-2, 6-3.  In the finals, Liam played hard against the #1 seed but lost 6-4, 6-1, but was of little significance with the trip to state secured.

The Knights tied the boys tennis record.  Among the 48 participating players Barstow captured 5 of the 6 available spots for the Missouri Individual State Tournament on May 18, 19 at the Cooper Center in Springfield.

Team Districts
The Barstow boys tennis team brought it on Wednesday, May 10, and for the second year in a row defeated previous district 7 champs, Thomas Jefferson Independent to advance to the state sectionals.  

The Knights  opened with a quick 8-0 win at #1 doubles as Sankeerth Gandhari and George Colombo dominated from the beginning.   Using a high first-serve percentage and a swarming net game, George and Sankeerth had the pair both playing back defensively from the beginning.  

At #2 doubles Liam Groden and Shayan Ahmed fought serve issues and lost 4-8 to a strong team.  At #3 doubles, Aaram Salam and Sanjeev Adma started out slowly.  After some tentative net play early, the boys found their aggressiveness. Down 4-6, behind Sanjeev's serve returns and Aaram's net play the boys won several key points in big games to walk off with an 8-6 win.
Ahead 2-1 after the doubles and needing 3 of the six singles wins, Liam Groden may have played the best singles of the day.  The match was never in doubt as Liam rolled with a 6-2, 6-1 victory.  The Knights. needed two more to clinch and Aaram Salam put together two solid singles matches to win 6-1, 6-4 for the fourth point.

That left the match in the hands of both teams' #1 player. Sankeerth Gandhari struggled early in the first set with some tentative games and fell behind midway 4-5.  But after the changeover, Sankeerth found his rhythm and reeled off three straight clutch games to grab the first set in a nailbiter, 7-5.  With that under his belt, Sankeerth found his energy and his stride to reel off 6 more straight games, 6-0, to finish the day and help send the team to the sectionals on Monday, May 15.