Greenwood’s Will Sistrunk and Glendale’s Micah Klousia survived the longest out of all Springfield-area players to compete in the 3rd place games in the Class 1 and Class 2 State Tournament, respectively. The sophomores made a statement with their performances and gave their coaches, fans and teams something to look forward to in the future.
Sistrunk faced off against Joshua Hurt, a Senior from Fulton who was 25-0 on the season. Hurt had a powerful forehand that Sistrunk would have to plan his game around countering.
“Hurt had one of the best forehands I have seen out here all day, so our obvious goal was to try to keep it away from that side,” said Greenwood head coach Stephen Walker. “I just tried to get Will to hang in there and he managed to pull it out.”
Sistrunk did not have to return many of Hurt’s forehands in this first set and was able to take it by a score of 7-5. However, Hurt was able to incorporate his power shot more in the second set.
“All of a sudden it was like cannons were going off, painting the lines with his forehand,” said Sistrunk. “I was just sprinting to get everything back. I was just trying my best to get all of them back and I finally finished it out.”
Sistrunk was able to win the second set by a score of 6-4 to seal the deal. Walker saw the potential for this accomplishment when he recognized the great work ethic of Sistrunk.
"Starting off, District Championship was a goal...I didn’t think he would get this far until I saw the way he trained, then I knew it was a possibility,” said Walker. “To get 3rd, I’m so ecstatic, his future is very bright.”
While Sistrunk celebrated his accomplishment, Micah Klousia was in a battle with Alex Pozo, a junior from Christian Brothers College. Klousia was beat in the first set by a score of 1-6, due in part to a swollen eye. He had to shake off this first set if he hoped to have a shot at winning.
“I went to the bathroom and I told myself to just go out there and be a different player and fight every point,” said Klousia. “I just wasn’t fighting the first set.”
The adjustments worked for Klousia as he was able to rebound in the second set and win it by a score of 6-4. The stage was set for what would be an epic third set.
Klousia and Pozo took the set to a tie-breaker. Klousia was able to fight off a match point in the tie breaker and rally back to win by a score of 7-6.
“Just an incredible comeback,” said Glendale head coach Bob Cooper. “He played every point, that says a lot about having that inner will and belief and faith in yourself. I’m very proud of his effort.”
Klousia was pleased with the way he was able to stick it out and come back today, but he has his goal set higher than third place next year.
“I want to win state,” said Klousia. “That’s the goal third place is great but I want to win state.”
Ozark Conference champion Jeremey Lynn of Joplin won the Class 2 Singles Championship over Dylan Steffens of Rockwood Summit, 6-1,5-7, 6-3. Lynn is signed to play with the University of Minnesota next year.
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