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Seward Tennis Places 14th at Nationals

The Seward County Saints wrapped up a successful year
this weekend in Plano, Texas, turning in a 14th place finish at the
NJCAA National Tournament.  Two Saints made it to the round of eight in
singles action while all six Seward singles players and all three
doubles teams either finished in the top nine of the main draw, or
finished in the top five of the consolation bracket. 
                The Saints captain Justin Pena took the court in #1
singles for Seward.  It looked like it was going to be a quick exit from
the tournament for the South African as he dropped the first set 6-3 and
was down 3-1 at the change-over in the second set to Harford's Farai
Chiridza.  Chiridza stumbled and Pena took advantage midway through the
second set, coming back to win 7-5 in a tiebreak to force a third set.
In the third set, Pena again found himself in a 3-0 hole and once again
he pulled out the comeback card and won 6 of the final 7 games of the
set to win 6-4 to take the match 2-1.  In the second round Pena ran up
against 2nd seeded Jerel Pleasant of Georgia Perimeter.  Pleasant had no
trouble with Pena in the first set, winning 6-2, but Pena made him work
in the second set, sending the set to a late tiebreak before Pleasant
was able to win it 7-6 (4) to end Pena's season in 9th place.
                After posting an 8-8 regular season record for the
Saints, sophomore Donnersson Penna made the most of his final tournament
in Seward green and white at the National Tournament.  Penna won easily
6-0, 6-1 in his first round matchup against Harrison Warren of Meridian
to advance to the second round.  In the second round he had a little bit
tougher of a time with Aaron Longoria of Temple as the two split the
first two sets with Penna winning set number one 6-2 before Longoria
flipped the script in a 6-3 win in the second set to send it to a third
set tiebreak.  In the third set Penna regained his form, winning 6-3 to
advance to the quarterfinal round of the tournament.  In the quarters
Penna ran into a buzzsaw in 3rd seeded Patrick Clynes of Collin who
downed the Saints star 6-3, 6-0 to end his tournament in 5th place. 
                With high expectations going into the tournament, the
Saints #3 player Daniel Alonte was disappointed early on in the
tournament as he fell 6-3, 6-2  to Romar Hernandez of Marion Military to
send him to the consolation bracket.  After getting a bye in the first
round of the consolation bracket, Alonte defeated TJ Carter of Meridian
6-1, 6-1 to move to the consolation quarters where he was unable to
finish his tournament, defaulting to Colin Ferry of Elgin to end his
                Luke Robertson got the Saints some quick points in #4
singles, winning 6-2, 6-1 over Christian Jackson of Meridian in his
first round matchup to advance to the second round.  On day two of the
tournament Robertson pulled a huge upset over 3rd seeded Luis Hernandez
of Laredo, dropping the  Palominos star by matching 6-4 scores to move
on to the tournament quarterfinals.  Coming off the upset, Robertson was
set to have another date with a seeded opponent, but was forced to
withdraw from the tournament and defaulted to 6th seeded Kaimalu Cope of
Scottsdale to finish his season just three wins short of a national
                Liberal's Josh Hamilton took the court in #5 singles for
the Saints.  Hamilton achieved a school first in the first round as he
became the first ever Liberal native to win a match in the main draw of
the National Tournament when he knocked off Chase Kasper of Meridian
6-2, 6-3.  Hamilton's joy was somewhat short-lived though as in the
second round he drew 2nd seeded Dave Pollack of Scottsdale and could
never get going, losing 6-1, 6-0 to give him a 9th place finish. 
                Mid-season acquisition Adrian Amado was never able to
get things going in his matches at #6 singles for Seward.  Amado was
blanked 6-0, 6-0 in the first round by Grant Bell of Gulf Coast and had
his tournament ended in the consolation bracket with another 6-0, 6-0
loss to Nino Newberry of Paradise Valley.
                Pena and Robertson teamed up at #1 doubles with high
expectations for the Saints.  In the first round they had little trouble
with Logan and Randall of Lewis and Clark, taking them down 6-0, 6-4 to
move to the second round.  In the second round they took the court
against a familiar duo in Myburgh and Tapfuma of Seminole State who came
into the tournament seeded 6th.  Pena/Robertson started off well, taking
the first set from the Trojans 6-4, but Myburgh and Tapfuma battled back
to take the second set by the same 6-4 score to send the match to a
third set.  The third set was one for the ages.  The two teams battled
back and forth without either being able to take control.  They were
deadlocked after 12 games and went to a tiebreak where Seminole was able
to finally come away with the win with a 10-6 victory to win the set
7-6.  That was it for Pena/Robertson who finish the year in 9th place in
the top doubles spot. 
                Penna and Alonte were also first round winners at #2
doubles, taking their opening match in straight sets 6-2, 6-4 to move
onto the second round.  The duo was not able to continue their road in
the tournament however as they withdrew in the next round and defaulted
to Hoeverson and Tapia of Cowley to end their tournament. 
                The Saints #3 doubles squad in Hamilton and Amado
battled in their first match against Paradise Valley's Madrigal and
Ortiz, splitting the first two sets 6-3 and 7-5, but ran out of gas in
the third set, losing 6-0 to drop to the consolation bracket.  It was
another Seward/Cowley matchup in the consolation quarters as Hamilton
and Amado dueled against Keller and Rodriguez from their Region VI
mates.  Keller and Rodriguez flexed their muscles, winning the first set
6-0 before ending the Saints season with a 6-2 second set win. 
                Seward finished the tournament in 14th place overall,
2.5 points behind Lewis and Clark and .5 point in front of Marion
Military.  Tyler wins yet another National title, blowing away the
competition with 47 points with second place ASA checking in at 35.5
points.  Cowley was the top finisher out of the Region with 24 points,
good for 10th place and Johnson County was right behind them in 11th
place with 20.5 points. 
Roy Allen

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