HOBART | With the score tied 2-2 and a super tiebreaker on the line, Wheeler’s Lucas Jessen had one thought.
“I knew I had to charge the net and be more aggressive,” Jessen said. “I knew I could make a difference if I got on top of the net.”
Jessen did just that. He nailed the last two tiebreaker points to win the set 11-9 and give the Bearcats a 3-2 win over Marquette in the Greater South Shore Tournament finals.
It was the sixth consecutive tourney title for the Times No. 6 Bearcats.
“This one was the toughest yet,” Wheeler coach Mike Rosta said. “Marquette played great tennis. They made us earn every point.”
Wheeler finished with 28 points, Marquette with 27. Noll took third (17), followed by River Forest (12), Calumet (9), and Lake Station (8).
The Blazers went up 2-0 in the final round on wins at No. 2 doubles and No. 3 singles.
“It was great to get a win for the team and for myself,” Marquette’s Jon Henry Papineau said. “I lost in the finals last year, so this was a little bit of sweet revenge. I was able to get my serves in consistently, and that helped my game a lot.”
The Bearcats tied it at 2-2 with wins at No. 1 and No. 2 singles.
That left it up to No. 1 doubles. The teams split the first two sets, which set up a super tiebreaker to decide the tournament champion.
The score was 9-9 when Jessen grabbed the last two points with a pair of bullets at the net.
“We played tough tennis today,” Marquette coach Jay Adams said. “We came as close as you can without winning.”
The Blazers also lost 3-2 to Wheeler in conference play earlier this year.
“We’re getting closer to the brass ring,” Adams said.
Both teams made the finals in all five spots, which was a first in the history of the conference tourney.
Noll coach Steve Tapia was disappointed in the play of his Warriors. Noll had come in on a four-game win streak, only to be shut out of the finals.
“I was hoping we would get a couple of positions in the finals,” Tapia said. “I think our talent level is strong enough that we should have been represented. For some reason, we didn’t play very well today.”
River Forest coach Beau Bruemmer was impressed with the progress his Ingots made since the beginning of the season.
“We are playing much better tennis now than we did a month ago,” Bruemmer said. “We are playing much more consistent, which is what a coach wants to see. Consistency and accuracy is what we are working on, and we could see that.”