Netters snare second at invitational

Bryan Veginski

The Washington boys tennis team began its year with a 9-0 Mid-Illini Conference loss to Metamora March 25.

The Redbirds are the defending league champions and a favorite to claim the crown again this spring.

The best Panther singles result was a 2-6, 3-6 loss from the No. 2 post by senior Danny Corray.

In doubles, senior Derek High and Corray extended Metamora’s top tandem before falling, 5-7, 4-6.

Washington was seventh overall in the Mid-Illini in 2007, combining a 1-5 dual mark with a seventh-place finish at the M-I tournament.

The remainder of this year’s team includes: seniors — Devin Norton, Matt Vroman, Mike Cyrs, Marcus Taylor and Craig Hines; juniors — Patrick Grillot, Doug Wright, Alex Rumer and Max Jones; and sophomore Dakoda Lanier.

Corray, High and Norton, all top-six returnees, will form the Panthers’ top three.

“I’m looking forward to them doing well,” said WCHS head coach Dave Krostal of the senior trio.

The next three are playing among the varsity’s top six for the first year.

With the brutal March weather, Washington has not gotten the chance to formulate definite spots for some doubles and singles positions.

The boys do not go full bore with their schedule until next week, so they are hoping to get a chance this week to tune up their games and settle into roles.

The Panthers likely will target fourth place in the conference since Metamora, Morton and Dunlap all are loaded this year.

“We hope to do a little better in doubles this year,” Krostal said.

Second-year M-I member Pekin, East Peoria and Limestone also will be vying for the fourth-place slot.

With a tough league, Washington could have a challenging time. It is optimistic about its fortunes against the slate of non-conference foes.

Among the chief personnel losses after graduation were Ryan Piers and C.J. Urban.

Central Invitational: Washington was second March 29 at Illinois Central College.

With 12 points to their credit, the Panthers trailed only champion Metamora in an eight-team field.

“I was pleased,” said Krostal. “We did a little better than we thought ...”

Two Washington entrants were third. Norton earned the award in singles and High Corray teamed for a third-place standing in doubles.

Among the teams the Panthers outperformed were East Peoria and Limestone. The host Lions finished in last place.

The Panthers were encouraged by pulling out some tiebreakers and performing well against competitors like the Raiders.

They also received contributions from a variety of people.

Morton is the host of this year’s Mid-Illini tournament.

The Panthers again are part of the nine-team Bloomington Sectional for the postseason.

Washington is open to adding more dates to the schedule. Its next tournament appearance is set for Saturday in Galesburg.