CHAMPAIGN – Centennial coach Don Waybright had a decision on his hands.
He could leave his top singles players, junior David Ruedi and senior Quinn Miller, apart and let them compete in singles in next month's postseason series. Or, he could put them together to compete in doubles, forsaking the singles route.
"David and Quinn play better doubles together than they each play as a single player," said Waybright, the veteran coach who takes over for Bill Carson. "I don't know if I could get either one seeded in the top 16 at state as a singles player. But I think when you put two really strong singles players together – that complement each other – I might be able to get them seeded in the top 16."
Ruedi and Miller seem poised for a strong spring.
A year ago, both reached the state meet in singles. Ruedi, the No. 3 seed, earned the sectional title by defeating second-seeded Miller 6-4, 6-2 in the final. At state, Ruedi won his first match but lost his next two matches. Miller, meanwhile, lost his opening match but then won four straight in the consolation draw.
Together, however, they have a chance to do damage at state. In three tournaments this season, Miller and Ruedi have captured one title (last week at Bloomington) and posted a pair of runner-up placings, including a second-place finish at the 32-team Edwardsville tournament. Their losses came against a strong team from Rockford Guilford that figures to be seeded at state.
"These guys can play some really good doubles," Waybright said.
Miller and Ruedi lead a strong team that should enjoy a solid season.
Ruedi holds the No. 1 singles spot, followed by Miller, sophomore Billy Regan, senior Sam Kim, junior Phil Ramsbottom and sophomore Jake Schilling.
The left-handed, big-serving Kim joins Ramsbottom on the No. 2 doubles team, with Regan and Schilling teaming at No. 3.
The lineup will undergo temporary alterations, such as this weekend when Centennial competes in a Decatur tournament. Waybright will split Ruedi and Miller in an attempt to capture the team title.
Playing the two standouts together wouldn't accomplish much, Waybright said, because the competition at Decatur wouldn't allow the duo to gain a head-turning victory to boost its potential seeding at state. By putting each player with a different partner, the Chargers could win both of those doubles brackets and gain plenty of team points.
"The only thing it could actually do is hurt them, if I put them together and they didn't win," Waybright said.