By Travis Smola
The Vicksburg varsity boys’ tennis team had one of its best finishes in recent memory as they sent one player to state competition and came very close to sending the whole team.
Senior Ayden Flickinger was Regional champion and came extremely close to being Conference champion too. At Regionals he defeated Coldwater 6-2, 6-4 and St. Joseph 6-1, 6-0. In the Conference meet, he beat his Plainwell opponent 6-2, 6-1 before falling to Allegan in a 7-5, 6-2 dogfight.
Flickinger earned a trip to the division 3 tennis finals where he won a first-round matchup against an opponent from Clio 6-1, 6-1. But in the second round he came up against a player from Cranbrook Kingswood who eliminated him from the tournament, 6-1, 6-1.
“It’s unbelievable how that kid played,” Head Coach Warner Offord said. “He’s one of the kids I’m going to miss very much.”
The Bulldogs took second in their conference as they missed out on first place by only two points. “It’s been a fantastic season,” Offord said.
At the Conference meet, Edgar Kim won a third place in the number two singles. Andrew Reno defeated players from Paw Paw and South Haven before being eliminated by Plainwell. In the number four singles, Zack Myers won against South Haven and Otsego to get to the finals. He fell there to a tough opponent from Allegan.
In doubles action, the team of John Kim and Drake Steele finished in seventh for the number one team. The Bulldogs got a third-place finish from the team of Gage Bainter and Garrett Patnoude. The number three doubles team of Ben Dilly and Sean Kelly beat teams from Paw Paw and Sturgis to advance to the final. But they lost there to Allegan 6-0, 6-3. The number four team of Thomas Harsha and Gage Stenger won against Otsego, but were eliminated in losses to tough Paw Paw and Plainwell opponents.
At Regionals, Kim had a first-round bye in the number two singles and won against Gull Lake before being eliminated by Edwardsburg. Reno also had a first-round bye. But he ended up losing to an opponent from rival Edwardsburg in the number three singles. Zack Myers had a good day in the number four singles. After a bye, he won against Plainwell, but then came up against Sturgis and was eliminated in the semi-final.
In doubles competition, Kim and Steele had a bye in the first round of the number one doubles. They lost to Lakeshore in the next. It was a similar story with the number two doubles as Bainter and Patnoude lost to Gull Lake.
In the number three doubles however, Dilly and Kelly played some of their best tennis all year. After a first-round bye, they took down Sturgis and then Gull Lake before facing St. Joseph in a wild final that finished 4-6, 7-6, 7-6.
Harsha and Stenger won their second-round matchup against Edwardsburg, but lost to Sturgis 6-1, 6-3.
Coach Offord’s mantra has always been about excelling in the second half of the season and this year fit the bill. “We showed up towards the end of the season and we missed it by six points to go to state.”