Evangel’s tennis doubles pair Andrew Deutsch and Devon Sikora won their second consecutive state tennis title Friday, but both said this year’s championship means a little more.
With the Eagles moving up to Class 3A/Division III athletics, the Evangel tandem knew the competition would be much more difficult.
“This one was way more exciting,” Deutsch said. “Last year we were in an easy division, and we weren’t challenged that much.
“But this year the competition was better. Playing in club leagues, we knew some of the players from Parkview (Baptist) and St. Louis (Catholic), so we knew we were facing.”
But the result remained the same in Division III as in Division IV – Deutsch and Sikora can call themselves the best.
And Deutsch said the pair set a state record by winning the final match in just 42 minutes with a 6-2, 6-3 win against Parkview Baptist’s Collin Anders and Michael Bayles. They dropped a total of 13 games in five matches, none coming closer than a 6-3 set to clinch the title.
Sikora said the pair was more relaxed this state tournament after a championship in 2013.
“Last year I had a lot more nerves, but this year was a lot tougher because of the talent level,” Sikora said. “We communicated pretty well, and pretty much everything was working.
“The server can pick where to serve, and we communicate with each other so we know where to look for the return to put it away.”
Evangel coach Andy Lloyd said the pair is “awesome at crossing,” which allows the tandem to easily hit winners.
“A good serve can set up an easy cross for a player who is parallel to the net,” Lloyd explains. “They can hit a return cross court to the server better than most … and they were winning handily.
“Their future is very bright because they will be playing the same (Division III) teams next year.”
Both Deutsch (sophomore) and Sikora (junior) will be back next season and will attempt to win a third consecutive title.
Sikora hopes another standout season will draw college interest while Deutsch is already fielding interest from Tulane, LSU and Purdue among other schools.