School News

Maharishi School Conquers District; Sends Singles, Doubles to State

By Carson Tigges, Fairfield Ledger sports editor
Monday, May 17, 2010 2:22 PM CDT

OTTUMWA —Sooner or later, they’re just going to automatically advance the Maharishi School boys’ tennis team.

But for now, the Pioneers are still fine with proving what they can do on the court and they did so again Friday. MSAE picked up singles and doubles titles along with third-place finishes in each to win the district title and advance to the substate team tournament for the 21st straight season. The district title among seven other teams was also the 17th in the last 23 years for MSAE and head coach Lawrence Eyre.

“I’m delighted with how it all turned out,” said Eyre.

Davis County won a 5-3 match vs. Fort Madison in the preliminary substate team tournament Saturday to take the runner-up slot and advance with MSAE to the substate tournament where they will meet Grinnell and Centerville. Next Saturday’s first round pairings will match up MSAE with Grinnell and Davis County with Oskaloosa with the winners facing off to determine who advances to the state tournament.

Joseph Gelfand was the epitome of the Pioneer domination and put himself in elite company storming through the singles bracket without dropping a single game. Gelfand posted four wins, each by scores of 6-0, 6-0, to put himself alongside three-time state singles champ (1995-97) Tyler Cleveland as the only MSAE players to post such impressive scores in the district tournament.

“Joseph was just on fire from start to finish,” Eyre said. “Everything was working for him and it showed.”

Gelfand’s final 6-0, 6-0 victory came against Davis County’s Tucker Henderson, who will join him at the state singles and doubles competition May 28-29 in Waterloo.

Also punching its ticket to Waterloo was the doubles team of Thomas Weiss and Derek Thatcher. Nearly as impressive as Gelfand, the duo blew through the doubles bracket with an overall game record of 48-6 including a 6-3, 6-2 win vs. third-seeded Dylan Hogan and Josh Perry Fort Madison to win the district title.

“Thomas and Derek really haven’t played together all that long, but to see the way they’re gelling so quickly is really nice,” said Eyre. “Communication is such a big part of doubles, and they’re doing a great job.”

Teammates Raphael Gelfand and Jay Stewart certainly did their part to help out Weiss and Thatcher taking the Fort Madison duo to the brink in their semifinal match that the Bloodhounds won 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. Gelfand and Stewart bounced back in the consolation match with a 6-1, 6-1 victory vs. Davis County to take third place.

Sam Arsanjani was also a third-place finisher for MSAE after a heartbreaking loss to Henderson in the singles semifinals. Henderson squeaked by Arsanjani in a third-set tiebreaker to end three years of frustration and finally get to the state tournament in his senior season.

“Each player brought everything they had, but this was Tucker’s last chance and he was able to pour out a little bit more in the final tiebreak. He wanted it a little bit more when crunch time came.” said Eyre. “As they say, it’s a game of inches, and it proved to be just that. Sam is disappointed, but he hopes to have some more chances.”

Arsanjani picked up the pieces to post a 6-2, 6-2 victory over fourth-seeded Brad Bish in the consolation match and will also continue his 2010 season with the rest of the Pioneers at Saturday’s substate tournament. MSAE will face a Grinnell team that features three-time state singles qualifier Charlie Wilhelm. The winner will face the winner between Oskaloosa and Henderson’s Davis County team. The state-qualifying doubles team of seniors Andy Stefanik and Alex Knoot leads Oskaloosa who have not forgotten the 5-4 victory the Pioneers edged out in the substate final a season ago on their way to the state tournament.

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