School News

Pioneers rule district tournament; qualify singles, doubles

By Carson Tigges, Ledger sports editor | May 13, 2011

(Photo by: Carson Tigges)
MSAE’s Raphael Gelfand was unseeded entering the district tournament but played his way to runner-up to qualify for the state singles tournament.
Unseeded Raphael Gelfand began his day with an upset of second-seeded Andrew Schulte of Keokuk and it was just the beginning of a big day for Maharishi School at Thursday’s district tournament.

Gelfand pulled off another upset on his way to play Pioneer teammate Sam Arsanjani in the singles final where both qualified for the state tournament along with doubles champs Thomas Weiss and Derek Thatcher.

MSAE’s No. 2 doubles team of freshman Solaris Nite and senior Brenton Schwartz also pulled off an upset of third-seeded Keokuk, but came up short in a semifinal match against Mount Pleasant’s Eric Hahn and Jerad Ruble. Nite and Schwartz finished in fourth place, but will still be playing for the Pioneers in the team event.

Weiss and Thatcher will be making their second straight appearance in the state doubles tournament and helped MSAE to a dominating win in the team event. The Pioneers came up with 32 points by the end of the sun-drenched tournament to more than double runner-up Mount Pleasant’s 15 and win their seventh-straight district title. Mount Pleasant will play third-place Davis County (8) Saturday to determine who moves on along with MSAE to the substate team tournament against Grinnell and either Centerville or Pella.

At the substate tournament — MSAE’s 22nd straight trip — scheduled for May 21, the Pioneers will gun for their 14th final four appearance in 24 seasons.

Thursday, Weiss and Thatcher rumbled through the doubles field to win their second district title in as many years while Arsanjani did the same in singles — until hitting a snag in the finals against Gelfand.

With state tournament seeding at stake, Gelfand stole a 7-5 first set before Arsanjani — MSAE’s No. 1 singles player — rallied to win the next two sets 6-1, 6-1 and take the district title.

Arsanjani strolled into that final match having only dropped three games in his previous three matches in the bracket.

Gelfand began his day with a first-set tiebreaker victory over Schulte — 7-6 (7-5) — and caught fire from there. The sophomore clinched the match with a 6-2 second set before steamrolling to 6-0, 6-0 victories in the next two matches — including his semifinal win over third-seeded Caleb Zimmerman of Mount Pleasant.

In all, Gelfand won seven straight sets before Arsanjani turned the tables in the final.

Top-seeded Weiss and Thatcher were equally as dominant playing doubles, however, they were handed the district title when Mount Pleasant’s Eric Hahn defaulted to go run in the district track meet. Hahn and partner Jerad Ruble will sill be in the state tournament field for finishing as runners up.

Hahn ran on the Panthers’ winning 4x800 relay team as well as in the 1600-meter run at districts.

The state singles and doubles tournament that will include a total of four Pioneers is scheduled for May 27-28 at Byrne’s Park Tennis Complex in Waterloo. MSAE will play the substate tournament in hopes of qualifying for the state team tournament slated for May 31 in Johnston.

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