Posted Online: April 05, 2014, 10:00 pm

McLaughlin off to strong tennis start

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By Chris Steele, chrissteele@qconline.com

ROCK ISLAND-- Alleman High School's Mark McLaughlin still has unfinished business on the tennis courts.

The returning singles sectional champion, McLaughlin remains hungry in his senior campaign.

While McLaughlin's eyes remain firmly on making an impact at the Western Big 6 Conference and sectional meets, Saturday's Rock Island Red Invitational gave McLaughlin a chance to knock out one of his season goals.

Runner-up at the invitational the past three years, McLaughlin earned a 6-5, 6-2 win over Freeport's Adam Winters for the No 1. singles crown.

"I've worked hard in the off-season to keep improving," McLaughlin said. "No matter how good you've become, you can always be better and you can always find kids that are better than you. It's good to try to keep improving on last year."

Alleman (30) finished third behind champion and perennial state power Gurnee Warren (33), which is coached by former Rock Island prep Greg Cohen. Host Rock Island finished eighth (8) in the eight team field that did not include any other local teams.

In No. 1 doubles, Alleman's Sam Gelski and Sam Woebber are another pair setting their sights high this season. Gelski and Woebber finished fourth, dropping a competitive third-place match to Galesburg's Kyce Stewart and Nate Puthenveetil, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.

A state qualifier in doubles last season, Gelski says that they need to improve their tempo to find more success.

"I think we can go far if we don't lose our tempers; if we cool down and take everything slow," Gelski said. "We play fast and it messes with our minds."

Alleman's No. 2 doubles team of Ben Woebber and Augie Darrow rallied in their second round match 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the championship.

Darrow and Woebber fell just short against Warren's No. 2 tandem of Neil Shah and Scott Seiler 6-3, 6-1 in the championship.

Rock Island's Jinesh Shah and Darien Ramsdale earned a second round win 6-2, 7-6 (3), but fell in the fifth-place match 6-3, 6-4.

Playing at No. 1 singles, Rocky freshman Josh Teggatz won his seventh-place match 6-2, 6-3. Teggatz battled in the second round against Galesburg's Jackson Wetherbee, but fell in a tough 6-4, 4-6, 10-7 match.