Rallied from 1-4 and 2-5 deficits in opening set to knock off Class 1 District 16 champion Mason Walk 7-6 (2), 6-4 in state-tournament-qualifying sectional match Tuesday, May 14
CAMERON, Mo. — Fighting back fiercely from a slow start, 2019 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS tennis Hornets senior Tyler Maasdam won nine of 11 games in one stretch with a critical first-set tiebreaker mixed in Tuesday, leading to a straight-sets 7-6 (2), 6-4 defeat of Maryville's Mason Walk in a sectional match to determine which player would qualify for next week’s Class 1 state tournament singles competition.
Topping Walk for the fourth time in four meetings this season allowed the newly-graduated Maasdam to advance to state play for the first and only time. State play is set for the Cooper Tennis Center at Springfield May 23-24.
Before Tuesday, the Hornet had beaten the Spoofhound during the Cameron tournament, in the Midland Empire Conference Tournament championship match, and, most recently, in a dual match at Maryville. However, the last meeting had been very tight and the first set of their best-of-3-sets battle for the MEC singles crown had needed a tiebreaker to decide.
Tuesday’s meeting No. 4 turned out to be even more tightly-contested, even though neither set started out that way.
Walk began the battle of 2019 grads by jumping out to a 5-2 lead, a significant reversal of their MEC tourney clash, which saw Maasdam take the first four games before the MHS player charged back to force the opening set to a tiebreaker the Hornet won decisively.
This time, with the District 16 champion a game from taking the first set in the best-of-3-sets match, it was Maasdam who battled back, ultimately successfully.
The Chillicothean held serve to make it 5-3, then broke Walk to build momentum. Another service hold by Maasdam squared the set at 5-5 and another break improbably had him in position to take the opening set he’d been on the verge of dropping decisively.
Walk answered with a service break of his own to force set No. 1 into a 12-points tiebreaker.
With the first player to win at least seven points with a lead of at least two points, Maasdam resumed his surge, largely replicating his performance in the first-set tiebreaker in the league tournament, when he claimed each of the first seven points to take the set.
This time, the Hornet grabbed five of the first six points to ratchet up the pressure on his foe. After Walk won a second point, Maasdam earned a set point on the next point and closed out the tiebreaker on the following rally, giving the Chillicothe who had been down 2-5 not that long before the opening set at 7-6 (2).
Buoyed by that and with Walk understandably downcast, Maasdam rolled through the Maryville player to a 4-0 lead in the second set.
However, just like his foe, Walk wasn’t willing to roll over and die.
After dropping nine of the preceding 11 games, in addition to losing the tiebreaker by a wide margin, the Spoofhound charged back to take four of the next five games, CHS coach Bob Long reports, before the Hornet held serve in the 10th game to close out the set 6-4 and the match 2-0.
With his tough triumph, Maasdam raised his singles record entering 2019 state play to 19-9.
CHS’ 10th player ever to advance to state in singles – three of his predecessors went multiple times, Maasdam ends a 4-years lag between Hornets singles qualifiers.
Most recently, Gabe Poling went for the last of his three appearances in 2015 and finished tied for eighth. He is the first Hornet to qualify for the state tourney after not winning the district title since Clint Keith in 2004.
Maasdam’s participation at state next week will be Chillicothe’s first since the doubles tandem of Brandon Lamp and Nate McKiddy went in 2016.
As a result of Tuesday’s play at the neutral, centralized site in Cameron, Trenton will entries in both state singles and doubles. Junior District 15 champion Gabe Swann advanced in singles, along with the senior District 15 champion doubles team of Nick Shields and Creed Houghton.
Savannah seniors Tage Young and Christopher Rudel was the other doubles participant to advance.
Trenton and Savannah will meet in the first round of the team state tournament at Marshall Saturday morning, weather permitting. The winner of their match – likely THS’ Bulldogs – then will take on the survivor of the Marshall-Kansas City: Pembroke Hill first-round match at about midday Saturday to see which of the four squads advances to the state team semifinals and finals a week from today at Springfield.