Thomas all in at final prep event

Thomas all in at final prep event

CHAMPAIGN — Jared Thomas won't appear in any record of the 2018 Class 1A boys' tennis state tournament.

That was by design.

The Centennial senior is making his third appearance this year, though, and is set up for a lengthy run as the No. 13 seed in singles action.

Thomas will open his stint today with a first-round match versus Rockford Christian's Trevor Kornfeld at Buffalo Grove High.

"This is the last ride," Thomas said. "I do have four more years of college tennis, but it's just going to be a good last memory of my high school career, going all out and ending on a good note."

That college future was precisely the reason Thomas didn't suit up for coach Teri Scaggs' Chargers as a junior.

Thomas desired a scholarship to play tennis beyond the prep level, so he broadened his horizons to acquire one.

"I was starting the recruiting process late. I had just quit football," Thomas said. "I thought the best option for me was to step away from the team and really focus on myself. I'm really glad I did that."

Thomas trekked to the Bloomington Tennis Center twice a week last year and honed his craft alongside and against some of Illinois' best youngsters, adding Indianapolis-based tournaments on the side.

"I was getting my butt kicked, but that was good," Thomas said. "I (now) can compete with pretty much anyone there."

His efforts drew the interest of Marian University coach Steve Mackell out of Indianapolis, though Thomas' first true audition for Mackell didn't pan out.

"(Last) summer I played in a tournament match, and he came to watch and I just choked," Thomas said. "He left the match early."

But two weeks before undergoing elbow surgery for a lingering injury, Thomas convinced Mackell to offer him one more shot. Mackell obliged, and Thomas defeated "his 7 or 8 guy."

"He offered me right there on the spot," Thomas said.

Thomas' elbow has recovered just fine, as evidenced by his 1A Uni High Sectional singles title victory over St. Thomas More's Wade Baillon.

The two met in the regular season as well, with Baillon snaring the win. Thomas admitted "I thought I was a hot shot" in the earlier match, adding a losing outcome was the best thing for him.

Now, Thomas is seeking nothing but triumphs during the three-day 1A state showcase before he begins his college career at Marian.

"If I'm confident, relaxed and calm, I can make it really far," he said, "and do something I've never done before."

FINAL ACT

A look at first-round matchups for all local boys’ tennis athletes who qualified for the 2019 Class 1A state meet, which kicks off today at various locations in northern Illinois:

Singles

— No. 13 Jared Thomas (Sr., Centennial) vs. Trevor Kornfeld (Jr., Rockford Christian), at Buffalo Grove

— No. 14 Wade Baillon (Jr., St. Thomas More) vs. Daniel Song (Jr., Mt. Vernon), at Schaumburg

— Bert Cao (Sr., Illinois Math & Science) vs. Bill Layton (Soph., Urbana), at Buffalo Grove

— Akash Pardeshi (Jr., Uni High) vs. Dev Patel (Sr. Wauconda), at Schaumburg

Doubles 

— No. 1 Thomas Moh (Sr.) & Tyler Bowers (Fr.) (Normal U-High) vs. Thomas Scaggs (Jr.) and Gunveer Singh (Fr.) (Centennial), at Wheeling

— Hayden Holloway (Sr.) & Jake Baumguart (Jr.) (Herrin) vs. Sam Li (Sr.) & Krishna Subbiah (Sr.) (Uni High), at Prospect

— Sid Saxena (Sr.) & Abe Saxena (Sr.) (Richwoods) vs. Arjun Tangella (Sr.) & Zachary Donnini (Soph.) (Uni High), at Elk Grove

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