After missing two points a year ago, the Geneseo boys’ tennis team was redeemed to win its first Western Big 6 Conference title on Saturday afternoon.
Rounded out by a doubles title from Alex Slaymaker and Thomas Robinson, the Maple Leafs earned 14 points in the team standings at Riverside Park.
Sterling (11 points) was second, followed by Alleman (10), Quincy (9), United Township (8), Moline (6), Rock Island (4) and Galesburg (0).
Alleman’s undefeated freshman Nicholas Patrick was voted Conference MVP after winning all four singles games 6-0, 6-0.
Geneseo’s No. 2 duo, consisting of Connor Nelson and Eric Vergane, finished fourth and singles No. 2 Logan Pardoe won his first-round match to help the Leafs win the Hardware in their third year since joining the league.
“Who knew Geneseo would have the conference title in the Western Big 6?” said coach Kevin Reed. “It’s a little redemption from last year.”
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Doubles were a strength for Geneseo under Reed. Last year’s conference meeting was an all Geneseo matchup, won by Slaymaker and Mason Smith. Smith returned as an assistant coach that season while attending school in the area.
“This year we just came out and played our best tennis and got the job done,” said Robinson, a junior. “We all played well. We didn’t really think about goals and stuff, we just went out there and played our game.”
The top-seeded duo defeated second-placed United Township’s Dylan Kastner and Kawl Mang 6-0, 6-2 in the final. Kastner and Mang defeated Nelson and Vergane in the semifinals 6-4, 6-2.
Robinson said he and Slaymaker had the right mentality to win. They are 11-1 along with their only loss coming 6-4, 5-7, 11-9 to a PND duo in the first meeting of the year nearly two months ago.
“It was good to be able to come out and win this year,” Slaymaker said. “I’m glad we were able to contribute. Since you can have two good doubles teams, it’s fun to be able to play against your own team. It gives you more people to work against to prepare for this situation.”
Reed got a little emotional after the win.
“Just proud of the boys,” he said. “In terms of coaching, I can’t do anything without these guys. It’s one of those things, would I ever believe that would happen? Probably not, but it’s the effort these guys put in.”
Allemans Patrick continued to dominate his way through the tennis prep season as he improved to 15-0. He’s only lost four games all season. Two of those came in a match against Sterling’s Brecken Peterson, whom he defeated 6-0, 6-0 in Saturday’s final. Peterson defeated Moline’s Ankit Rajvanshi 7-5, 6-0 in the semifinals.
“It feels good to represent; represent my father, represent Alleman, represent all my coaches and my teammates,” he said. “I’m just trying to keep playing my game, getting in and out of the pitch and playing to the best of my ability. I was very fortunate to find my game and it shows in my results.”
Patrick is the first freshman to win the Big 6 singles title since Molines Shady Khalafallah did so in 2015.
Patrick is understandably confident about going into section. He likes the way he plays and his stamina has made a difference on longer points.
“I have a lot of momentum,” he said. “That’s just the beginning. I’m just getting started. Hopefully I can continue to represent and possibly bring home a state title.
Photos: Big 6 tennis tournament