Favored host Trenton dispatches CHS netters 5-1 in Thursday, May 9, 2019, team district tournament title match at Trenton

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
TRENTON, Mo. — Even though the 5-1 final score by which the top-seeded Trenton (Mo.) HS tennis Bulldogs dispatched the visiting Chillicothe Hornets in Thursday’s chilly Class 1 District 15 team tournament championship match looks more dominating than the ’Dogs’ 7-2 and 6-3 regular-season triumphs over CHS, the action actually unfolded in similar manner.
When the two squads squared off for the first time over two evenings in the “Tennis Under the Lights” Tournament at Kirksville, one of the two CHS wins came in No. 6 singles. In a dual match in Chillicothe the next week, two of the hosts’ three position victories occurred in the bottom two singles sets.
With Thursday’s district final under the procedural rules of Missouri State High School Activities Association postseason competition, Chillicothe’s Nos. 5 and 6 singles players barely got their matches underway before action was halted because Trenton had achieved the insurmountable 5-1 lead in the 9-positions match. Thus, just as in the two previous clashes, Trenton had defeated CHS in all but one of the first six sets/matches to finish. Identically to the earlier match in Chillicothe, the Hornets’ lone success among the doubles and top four singles competitions came from their No. 3 doubles team of senior Seth Batye and junior Gavin Sampsel.
In Thursday’s district team play, the Sampsel-Batye combination delivered an 8-6 triumph over Ike Harris and Jonin Villacampa, allowing the Hornets to transition to the singles portion of the match with at least some hope of extending the match’s outcome to at least seven, if not more, completed matches. However, by the fact that there are only four courts at the THS facility, the two position matches in which CHS theoretically had its best prospects had to await the completion of two of the top four matches.
By the time CHS’ Colten Johnson at No. 5 and Sampsel at No. 6 singles got open courts on which to play, Trenton had expanded its 2-1 advantage from doubles to 4-1, via Gabe Swann’s 6-0, 6-1 sweep past No. 2 Hornet Noah Crowe and Jeremy Elliott’s 6-3, 6-3 defeat of Batye at No. 4.
Before Johnson and his foe at No. 5 got more than a game or two played and before Sampsel and his foe could even complete their warmups, top Trenton player Nick Shields had routed top Hornet Tyler Maasdam for a third time in three 2018 meetings 6-2, 6-0. When the final point of that No. 1 singles match concluded, Trenton had the five position wins needed and all other play ceased.
The other singles match which was well along – No. 3 – was close, but still was headed Trenton’s way with Creed Houghton up on Chillicothe’s Brendon Nelson 7-5, 3-2. Nelson had edged Houghton 8-6 at Kirksville, but dropped their rematch in Chillicothe 5-8.
Thursday’s No. 1 doubles set was won by THS’ undefeated 2018 state-tournament participants Shields and Houghton by a runaway 8-2 count over Maasdam and Crowe. No. 2 doubles went to the Bulldogs’ Elliott and Swann over the Hornets’ Nelson-Johnson tandem.
With Chillicothe’s loss at Trenton, its team-match season ended with a 6-10 record (including losing all three 2-night matches in the April 11-12 tournament at Kirksville).
Trenton again advances to the sectional round of the state tournament, where it will face the District 16 champions at a to-be-determined site Saturday, May 18. The winner of that morning’s sectional match then will meet the winner of the same-site match between the Districts 13-14 representatives in a state-quarterfinals match that same afternoon.
Chillicothe’s season will continue on to this Saturday when it will compete in the non-team singles and doubles District 15 Tournament at Excelsior Springs.
If Trenton’s Shields is used in doubles, as anticipated, CHS’ Maasdam is expected to have a very good opportunity to place among the top two finishers in singles and thus advance to a non-team, state-qualifying best-of-3-sets match Monday or Tuesday against either the District 16 champion or runnerup. Whichever he might face, if he qualifies, the Hornet likely already would have defeated him previously this season.
If that possibility comes to pass, a win by Maasdam against that District 16 opponent would advance him to the May 24-25 state tournament at its traditional Cooper Tennis Complex home in Springfield.