Chillicothe (Mo.) HS' Chace Corbin District Tennis Singles Champ; Caleb Corbin, Carter Allen Doubles Runnersup
Will play in state-qualifying sectional matches at home later this week
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
Three Chillicothe (Mo.) HS boys' tennis players – junior Chace Corbin and seniors Carter Allen and Caleb Corbin – have earned the right to play for berths in the Class 1 state tournament on their home courts later this week..
Ch. Corbin, as he was favored to do once the entries were formally submitted just beforehand, won the Class 1 District 15 Tournament singles crown this past Saturday without dropping a set.
His older cousin Caleb and doubles partner Allen snagged second place behind Trenton's Trent Villacampa and Bradyn Sager to earn a spot in the non-team sectional matches scheduled for this coming Friday (May 14, 2021) at Chillicothe's Daryl Danner Memorial Park courts.
In non-team sectional play, match winners become one of the 16 qualifiers for the state tournament later this month at Springfield, while losers are eliminated.
In his sectional match, Chace Corbin will take on District 16 runnerup Matt Goodridge of Maryville in a rematch from just last Thursday. The Chillicothean defeated Goodridge 8-5 at Maryville last week.
In their sectional do-or-die assignment, Allen/Ca. Corbin surprisingly draw Andrew Collier and Matt Collier of Savannah, the District 16 champs. The duos met in the consolation finals of the Midland Empire Conference non-team tournament on April 30 with the Savannah tandem prevailing 8-2.
Last Saturday's district non-team tournament were played in chilly, very windy conditions at the Danner Park courts, but still produced the generally-anticipated results, in terms of sectional qualifiers.
When Trenton entered its top two players in doubles, Ch. Corbin became the clear-cut singles favorite and delivered in that role, albeit with a near misstep in the second set of his semifinal.
Having won at love in the quarterfinals and in the first set of his semifinal against Carrollton's Charlie Wohlgemuth, the Hornet found himself down 4-5 to the Trojan in the second set and staring at a possible do-or-die third set against a surging foe.
However, Ch. Corbin battled his way to victory in the last three games to claim the set 7-5 and match 2-0.
In the finals, with only the sectional pairing – not advancement – at stake, the Hornet repeated his season-opening triumph over Carrollton's best player, Luke Davis, by a 6-4, 6-2 margin. Ch. Corbin had downed Davis 8-4 in both players' and teams' season opener in late March.
With his three district victories, Ch. Corbin improved his singles record for the season to 18-4.
Ca. Corbin and Allen, Chillicothe's top doubles pair most of the season, was seeded third behind the eventual champions and Carrollton's No. 2 doubles combo, which had defeated the two Hornets 8-4 in March. The ranking of which was second and third effectively was a moot point, however, since both figured to win their opening quarterfinal match handily and then square off, face to face, in the semifinals.
That's what happened with the Chillicotheans winning over a Cameron entry 6-1, 6-0 to start its day and then lining up across from Carrollton's Kyle Dirck and Christian Linneman.
Displaying the improvement they've made since season's start, when they had only the slightest bit of varsity experience, Allen/Ca. Corbin got out in front early and never really gave the Trojans' twosome an opening to catch up, claiming the first set 6-2.
Similarly, the Chillicothe tandem opened a second-set lead and preserved it, nearly duplicating the score of the first set with a 6-3 victory.
In the championship round, the Hornets duo rode their wave of confidence to a 6-3 victory in the opening set against Villacampa and Sager, creating the possibility of a Chillicothe sweep of the district tites and a likely-more-advantageous sectional pairing against the District 16 runnersup for Ca. Corbin and Allen.
However, the favored THS Bulldogs settled in after the break between sets, answering the CHS pair's first-set win in kind at 6-3 and then repeating that margin in the decisive third set to snare the title.
Each of Chillicothe's other entries – sophomore Gabe Peterson in singles and junior Emmett Young and sophomore Shayden Hawkins in doubles – lost in straight sets in the quarterfinals to be eliminated early in the day. The eventual doubles champs ousted Hawkins/Young in straight sets, as singles runnerup Davis did to Peterson.
In an oddity, within a few minutes of each other, both Chillicothe sectional qualifiers clinched that status on identical disputed plays.
First, with Ch. Corbin at match point as he tried to complete his late surge against Wohlgemuth, a deep volley by the Trojan handcuffed the Hornets as the ball bounced in close to his body. In taking an awkward forehand swing at the shot, the Chillicothe player accidentally caught the ball with the frame of his racket before also making contact with the strings and safely sending the ball back over the net.
Under revised general rules of tennis competition altered just in the past year, Chillicothe coach Bob Long shared, the double-contact was a legal stroke since it came on a single swing of Ch. Corbin's racquet. However, thinking otherwise, the Carrollton player stopped playing the point, expecting to receive credit for the point, which would have sent the game to deuce. Instead, his lack of a return gave the Hornet the point, the game, set and match.
While that still was being rehashed among observers near the lower courts at Danner Park, on one of the hill courts, with the Chillicothe duo one point from victory, almost incredibly the same thing happened only a couple of minutes later.
As a Carrollton volley was being played by either Allen or Ca. Corbin, a lone swing of the Hornet's racquet inadvertently resulted in double contact. That double hit put the ball back on Carrollton's side of the net, but the two Trojans there, having heard/seen the twin contacts, chose not to attempt to keep the ball in play. When, after discussion between both teams' coaches and Trenton's coach, it was clarified that the shot by Chillicothe was legal and, by virtue of Carrollton not returning it, the point belonged to the Hornets, giving them also game, set and match.
In addition to explaining the change in the rule to the C-T, which was on hand at the time, Long noted that, even under the former rule, it would have been the responsibility of the offending player to "self-call" the mishit, not the opponent.
With the non-team portion of district competition disposed of last Saturday, the dual-match competition between Chillicothe, Trenton, Carrollton and Cameron is to begin Monday with Trenton hosting Cameron and Carrollton welcoming Chillicothe. The two winners then are to clash at the courts of choice of the higher remaining seed on Tuesday.
The team district champion moves on to the first round of state play this coming Saturday in a 4-teams mini-tournament from which the winner emerges as a state semifinalist.