Statesmen Beat Pioneers; First Time In 20 Years


April 20, 2012
A rare 4-3 boys tennis victory over rival Kirkwood on April 5 at Kirkwood Park has propelled Webster Groves High School to a five-match winning streak and a 5-2 start through April 17. Not bad considering Webster Groves is coming off two straight 3-11 seasons.

In the win over traditionally-rich Kirkwood, Webster Groves senior Patrick Dugan's victory in No. 3 singles proved to be the difference. After winning the first set by a 6-3 score, he blew a 4-1 lead in the second set and lost a 7-5 tiebreaker. He overcame a 3-0 deficit in the third and final set to win 6-3 and secure history, the first win over the Pioneers in 20 years.

"He had no idea (his win secured the victory)," Webster Groves Coach Terry Verstraete said. "He was pretty shocked."

The Kirkwood win has given Webster Groves the confidence to succeed in the future. The Statesmen will face Rockwood Summit, Kirkwood, Vianney, Parkway North and University City.

"This is a scrappy team," Verstraete said. "We don't have year-round guys. They pick up their rackets in March and put them down in May. They have more confidence, more maturity and they know how to win."

In fact, after an 0-2 start, Verstraete witnessed challenge matches in practice on April 3. He changed his lineup and promoted five players from the junior varsity squad in freshman sensation Willie Zempel, sophomore Chase Richards, freshman Brian Dugan and sophomore Nick Gilbert. Juniors Ivan Benson and Nick Miller were promoted to the Statesmen's No. 1 doubles team from No. 2 doubles. Kennedy and Gilbert became the No. 2 doubles team. The No. 3 doubles squad is Brian Dugan and Welky.

The No. 1 singles player is junior Ben Kessler, followed by Zempel, Patrick Dugan and Richards.

"There are no big egos on this team," Verstraete said. "They are the epitome of what a team is. They weren't complaining about the changes. They have been amazing.

"I can imagine they are only going to get better," he said. "They're finding ways to win them. They're believing in themselves. I know they can give anybody a match, a run for their money."

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