After finishing 3rd at the Region VI Tournament last weekend, the Seward County Saints Tennis team is on their way to the NJCAA National Tournament with one of their deepest lineups in recent memory. The Saints had already punched their ticket after one day of competition but would make a push for the top spot in the region on day two before falling just short to Cowley and Johnson County who both finished 3 points ahead of the guys in green.

Laercio Lobo got things started for the Saints in #1 singles and defeated Hesston’s David Tedme 6-1, 6-1 in his first round matchup but fell 6-1, 6-3 in round two to Zack Evenden of Cowley and then 6-3, 6-2 in the 3rd place match to Dahren Ramdin of Johnson County to finish in 4th place with 1 point. Seward’s #2 singles player Nathan Nelmes beat Joan Vails of Cowley 6-2, 7-6 in a good first round match before dropping the title bout 6-4, 6-3 to Bernardo Coehieo of Barton to finish in 2nd place with 2 points for the Saints. Felipe Cruz would suffer the same fate as Nelmes for Seward as he won his first round matchup 6-4, 6-1 over Nei Dos Santos of Cowley but fell to Niklas Sparr of Johnson County in the finals in a hard fought 7-5, 7-6 decision to put him 2nd in the tournament. Johnson County’s Maksin Fil beat the Saints Raphael Machado in round one of the #4 singles bracket 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 but Machado recovered to pick up 1.5 points for Seward with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Victor Miranda of Barton in the 3rd place match. After winning the first set of his #5 singles bracket match 6-4 over Harry Lee of Johnson County, Cristiano Mendes saw 7-5 and 6-4 scores go in the direction of Lee to bump him into the 3rd place match where he beat Austin Loucks of Hesston handily 6-1, 6-2 to finish in 3rd place with 1.5 points. Looking to give Seward at least one region champion in singles play, Lucas Izkovitz took the court in #6 singles and defeated Luke Miller of Hesston in the first round but fell short of winning the title in a 6-3, 7-5 loss to Dave Chera of Cowley to finish in 2nd place, good for 2 points.
In doubles play the Saints captured 6.5 of 9 total available points. Lobo/Nelmes faced a tough Sparr/Fil team from Johnson County in round one of the #1 doubles bracket and lost 6-1, 6-3 but bounced back to pick up 1.5 points after a 6-7, 6-2, 14-12 win over Volclaire/Coehieo of Barton in the 3rd place match in what was likely the match of the weekend. Cruz/Machado took the court in #2 doubles for the Saints and won 6-1, 6-2 in their first test of the weekend over Painer/Tomkins of Hesston and found their way to the tournament championship match with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Ramdin/Olsen of Johnson County. In the championship match they were even with Evenden/Giband of Cowley after two sets but couldn’t take home the third set as they fell 6-3 to finish as the runners-up. The Saints had their only tournament champions come out of the #3 doubles draw as Mendes/Izkovitz continued to be a force to reckon with a win over Loucks/Miller of Hesston in round one before knocking off Chera/Ward of Cowley 7-5, 6-3 in the championship match to become 2011 Region VI Champions.
The Saints slipped in comfortably at #3 as a team as the tournament came to an end with 16.5 points while Cowley and Johnson County tied atop the leader board with 19.5 points apiece. Seward will now have to find a way to stay sharp for the over three week layoff before they head south to Plano, Texas to compete for a National Championship in the NJCAA National Tournament.