BENTONVILLE -- Fayetteville coach Darin Phelan offered simple instructions for his doubles duo of Jack Mason and Jackson Runnels.
"Aggressive! That's the word!" the Bulldogs tennis coach shouted.
Class 7A state boys tennis tournament
at Memorial Park, Bentonville
- Little Rock Catholic 7; 2. Little Rock Central 6; 3. Fayetteville 4; 4. (tie) Rogers High and Fort Smith Southside 2; 6. Bentonville West 1.
First round (noon)
C4 Tucker Harris, LR Catholic def. W5 TJ Sansieng, Van Buren 6-1, 7-6
W3 Hayden Shoemake, Bentonville West def. C6 Jack Ledbetter, FS Southside 6-2, 6-1
C5 Andrew Maxson, LR Central def. W4 Jake Keefauver, Bentonville High 7-5, 7-5
C3 Ethan Eddelman, FS Southside def. W6 Christian Blunden, Rogers High 6-3, 6-1
Quarterfinals (4 p.m.)
W1 Jake Sweeney, Fayetteville def. Harris 6-0, 6-0
C2 Anil Chakken, LR Central def. Shoemake 6-4, 6-3
C1 Parker Stearns, LR Catholic def. Maxson 6-1, 6-0
Eddelman def. W2 Conor Clardy, Springdale Har-Ber 6-3, 6-1
Semifinals (10 a.m.)
Championship (1 p.m.)
First round (10 a.m.)
C4 Jake Maxson/Ben Heflin, LR Central def. W5 Luke Nega/Mason Lane, Bentonville High 6-3, 6-2
W3 Payne Henry/Cooper Gommel, Rogers High def. C6 Thomas McNabb/Parker Padgett, Conway 6-1, 6-1
W4 Lucas Camerlingo/Ethan Nguyen, Rogers High def. C5 Will Thames/Will Sayers, FS Northside 6-1, 6-4
C3 Harrison Cook/Jackson Davis, LR Catholic def. W6 Zack Lewandowski/Solomon Lopez, Springdale Har-Ber 6-2, 6-1
Quarterfinals (2 p.m.)
W1 Jackson Runnels/Jack Mason, Fayetteville def. Maxson/Heflin 4-6, 7-5, 7-5
Henry/Gommel def. C2 Henry Nolan/Steven Weeks, LR Central 6-3, 6-2
C1 Phillip Abston/Zandy Djurick, LR Central def. Camerlingo/Nguyen 6-3, 6-2
Cook/Davis def. W2 Sanket Srivasta/Vikrim Bauaskaren, Bentonville High 4-6, 6-2, 6-0
Semifinals (10 a.m.)
Championship (1 p.m.)
At the time, the 7A-West boys doubles champions were tied at 4-4 in the second set against Little Rock Central's Ben Heflin and Jake Maxson. Heflin and Maxson, the No. 4 seed from the 7A-Central, already were up 1-0 in the best-of-three match after taking the first set 6-4.
Mason and Runnels responded by winning the final two sets 7-5, 7-5 to advance to today's 7A state semifinals at 10 a.m. They'll take on Rogers High's Cooper Gommell and Payne Henry, who advanced by knocking off Little Rock Central's Henry Noland and Steven Weeks, the No. 2 seed from the 7A-Central.
"There was a little bit of doubt after they went up 1-0," Mason said. "The first set we struggled with what coach had taught us. We didn't really stick with the basics, but by the second and third set, we were able to turn it around, do what he taught us and pull it out."
The match lasted 133 minutes. Because word had spread about a potential upset in the making -- and because the other matches finished well ahead of the marathon match -- dozens of fans flocked to Court 6 at Bentonville's Memorial Park to watch the match.
The intensity of the situation spilled over into the crowd, resulting in verbal back-and-forth between fans, players and officials over several close calls.
"I've been playing in these tournaments for three years now and it still gets to me sometimes," Runnels said. "But a large crowd gets me going a little bit more. You feel like you should probably put on a show with all of these people watching, but you still have to stay composed and play your game."
Phelan said "rivalries" during conference play prepared his players for the state tournament atmosphere. He also credited them with following his simple instructions about staying aggressive against Heflin and Mason, a team that defeated Bentonville High's Luke Nega and Mason Lane in the first round 6-3, 6-2.
"We came up against a couple of guys who were really getting hot," Phelan said. "We were a little bit hesitant, so my reaction is always that you play aggressive through that and it usually pushes you through.
"We got lucky in that third set. There were five breaks in that third set and it could have went either way, so we were lucky to get out of there with a win."
One the shortest boys' matches of Day 1 was Fayetteville's Jake Sweeney defeating Little Rock Catholic's Tucker Harris in the singles quarterfinals. Sweeney, a freshman, won the 7A-West Conference title last week and posted the only 6-0, 6-0 victory on Monday.
Sweeney, who led the cheers for "Jack and Jack-0" during the Bulldogs' doubles win, was planning a sushi dinner to celebrate.
"He played solid," Phelan said. "That's what we were looking for -- to see how he focused through an entire match. That was the best match I've seen him play from the first point to the last point, so it was really good to see."
Sports on 10/17/2017
Print Headline: 'Aggressive' Bulldogs avoid upset