SPRINGFIELD - The Sikeston tennis team ended its season Saturday at the Class 1A-3A sectionals in St. Louis, but three individuals will continue their season at the state tennis tournament this weekend.
Senior singles player Stephen Pobst and the doubles team of junior Ryne Vickery and sophomore Peter Jones begin competition at the Cooper Tennis Complex on Friday morning.
They qualified for the state tournament two weeks ago by winning the Class 1A-3A District 1 Tournament.
Pobst won the championship match against Alec Peterson 6-1, 7-5. Vickery and Jones won the district against Park Hills Central's Lance Sechrest and Cody Christopher 7-6 (7-1), 6-3.
The three reached the state tournament last year but weren't able to place.
This year, they have a year's experience under their belts.
"We're excited for those three to have the opportunity to go back," said Sikeston tennis coach Brian James. "They got some experience up there last year and found that it was quite competitive at state. They basically set a goal that they wanted to get back there this year. They've done a good job of working to get better and look to have a good showing at state."
Pobst, who is undefeated this year at 21-0, has won 41 regular season matches in a row dating back to last season.
He won one match at the state tournament last year before being eliminated.
"Stephen got done last year at state and decided that he was going to dedicate himself and try to place this year," said James. "I really am optimistic about him placing in the top six this year. That was a goal he set, he's worked extremely hard achieving that goal, and he really wants to go out on a good, positive note. I think he has an excellent chance of achieving those goals."
Vickery and Jones are 11-2 this year. In last year's state tournament they were eliminated after two matches, but James chalked it up to a learning experience.
"Last year I think them qualifying for state surprised all of us," said James. "They kind of snuck in the back door at the district tournament. This year they were the No. 1 seed in the district tournament and they lived up to that seed so it was a little more expected for them this year. I'm very optimistic about their chances.
"I think there's no comparison of how they are this year to what they were last year. They're a year older and they know what to expect up there. They played the team that got second last year pretty decently and they took another match to three sets so they know they can compete. They have what it takes to get up there and make some noise at the state tournament."