By BRADEN LAYER
Effingham Daily News
---- — ALTON -- Battling both the elements and a shortened preseason, the St. Anthony boys tennis team played at top form on Saturday, opening the season with a 3-0 record at the Alton Marquette Catholic Schools Tennis Tournament.
The Bulldogs won each of their three matches on the day, defeating Belleville Althoff, Quincy Notre Dame and the host Explorers to capture first place in the tournament.
“It was a long day, especially for our first matches of the season,” Bulldogs’ coach Joe Reynolds said. “All eight of our young men played very well.”
St. Anthony was well prepared from the onset, picking up a 5-0 victory in its first match against Althoff. Cole Buehnerkemper, Frank Jansen and Jack Fifer won in singles, and Scott Rentfrow and Jay Niebrugge started the season strong in doubles, rolling to a 6-0, 6-1 victory. To complete the shutout, the doubles team of Alec Niebrugge and Luke Jansen won a tightly contested match in three sets, 7-5, 4-6, and 7-5.
In their second match against Quincy Notre Dame, the Bulldogs didn’t miss a beat. Buehnerkemper, Jansen and Fifer again beat their opponents, with Buehnerkemper not losing a single game en route to a commanding 6-0, 6-0 finish. In doubles, Rentfrow and Jay Niebrugge stayed hot with a 6-3, 6-4 win, before the Raiders managed to pull one point out of the match with a doubles victory over Tom Schottman and Alec Niebrugge.
The third and final match followed the same script, with all three singles players and the doubles tandem of Rentfrow and Jay Niebrugge dominating the opposition. The only loss of the 4-1 win over Alton Marquette came when the No. 2 doubles team of Luke Jansen and Schottman fell 6-2, 6-2.
Reynolds was pleased with his team’s debut, as St. Anthony looked every bit the part of a major contender.
“It was a pleasant surprise,” he said. “Especially since the weather has limited practice time. It was good to start out our season against three schools that have quality tennis programs.”
St. Anthony is scheduled to take on Robinson today, weather permitting.
Effingham St. Anthony: 3-0
Alton Marquette: 1-2
Belleville Althoff: 1-2
Quincy Notre Dame: 1-2