The Seward County Saints Tennis team continued their march as one of the finest in the region this weekend as they took on a host of four year schools as well as Barton CC and came out 32-15 overall at the Bethany Invitational. Seward was 20-11 in singles action and a dominating 12-4 in doubles play on the weekend.

In #1 singles the Saints placed two players in the bracket as Felipe Cruz and Laracio Lobo entered the #1 draw. Lobo would lose a tough opening round match 4-6, 6-0, 10-8 to Washburn but would even his record at 1-1 with an 8-5 win over Nebraska Wesleyan in the consolation bracket. Cruz would cruise through his first two matches as he won in the opening round 6-0, 6-2 and then took out William Jewell 6-3, 6-2 to move onto the semis where he fell to Southwest Baptist 7-5, 6-2 to finish 3rd in the tournament.

Nathan Nelmes and Raphael Machado would be the Saints representatives in #2 singles and would go a combined 5-1 and Machado would take home a title at the end of the weekend. Nelmes beat Barton in his opening round 6-2, 6-1 but was upended by Washburn in the quarters 8-6 (5), 2-6, 10-8 to finish 5th in the bracket. Machado would win a couple of tough battles in his road to the finals, beating Baker 6-4, 6-4 and then Nebraska Wesleyan 7-5, 6-1 to move to the semis. In the semis he would take care of Washburn 6-1, 2-6, 10-7 to advance to the finals against a familiar smiling face for Saints fans. Carlos Souza who played for the Saints from 2008-2010 would meet up with Machado in the final match and the Saints new young gun would drop the former Saint Souza 6-2, 6-2 to win the championship. Souza joked with coach Darin Workman afterwards saying “I am glad that I graduated last year. If I was on the team this year I might not get to play.” Kind words coming from a member of the Saints squad that finished 10th at last year’s National Tournament.

Eduardo Munoz would have a tough day in #3 singles, dropping both of his matches on the day 5-7, 6-3, 10-6 and then 8-3 to Kansas Wesleyan in the consolation bracket to finish his day. Also playing in the #3 bracket for the Saints was Christiano Mendes who would breeze to the semifinals with 6-1, 6-1 wins in his first two matches before falling to Washburn 6-4, 3-6, 10-5 to end his day in 3rd place overall.

In #4 singles the Saints would show very well as Lucas Izkovitz and Rafael Raw put on a show. Raw finished 3rd after a 7-5, 6-3 win over Baker in the opening round followed by a 2-6, 8-6, 10-4 win over Hastings in the quarters before falling 6-3, 6-3 to William Jewell in the semis to finish the second runner-up. On the opposite side of the bracket Izkovitz dominated, marching through the competition without losing a set on his way to the title. He beat William Jewell 6-2, 6-2 in the first round, Bethany 6-0, 6-2 in the second round, Juan Gutierrez 6-1, 6-1 in the semis and then William Jewell again in the finals 7-5, 6-2 to win.

Levan Gabeshvilli would go 1-1 in the #4 singles draw as he fell in his first match 6-4, 6-2 to William Jewell but rebounded with an 8-2 win over Nebraska Wesleyan to finish the weekend even. Alex Richards also playing in the #4 draw finished 1-1 as well, winning 6-3, 6-3 over Hays in his opener before falling 8-6, 6-4 to put him 5th as his tournament came to an end.

In #5 singles Landon Harp was the man for the Saints, going 1-1 with a loss to Kansas Wesleyan 6-3, 7-5 and a win over Hays 8-4 in the consolation bracket. Fellow Liberal native Aaron Shaffer went 1-1 as well with a first round win over Baker 6-4, 6-4 and a loss in the quarters to Washburn 6-0, 6-0 to put him 5th.

In doubles play the Saints would be the team to beat as Lobo and Nelmes were on one side of the draw and Cruz and Machado were on the other in the #1 bracket. Lobo and Nelmes would lose their first match 8-4 but would even their record with an 8-2 win in the consolation bracket. Cruz and Machado would go 3-1 and play for the championship with 8-5 wins in the first three rounds over Nebraska Wesleyan, Southwest Baptist, and Washburn before falling in the title match 8-3 to Southwest Baptist.

#2 doubles is where the Saints put on a real show for the ages as Munoz and Raw would find themselves opposite Mendes and Izkovitz as the bracket played itself out. Munoz and Raw would take the top half of the bracket with 8-3, 8-4, 8-3 wins over Friends, Hays, and Bethany to advance to the finals while Mendes and Izkovitz won 8-3 over Newman, 8-3 over William Jewell, and 8-5 over Washburn to find their way to the championship match. The two Seward teams would not play each other and therefore shared the championship with matching 3-0 records.

Richards and Gabashvilli were one of two Seward County teams in #3 doubles action as they went 1-1 with an 8-1 win in the first round over Kansas Wesleyan before falling 8-1 to Newman in the second round to end their day. Harp and Shaffer also combined in the #3 bracket and wend 1-1 as well after dropping a close 8-6 battle in the first round before rebounding to win 8-5 over Hays in the consolation bracket to finish even for the day.

The Saints now travel to McPherson and Hesston this weekend where they will take on the Bulldogs on Friday and the Larks on Saturday as they continue fall action.