As Jack McClaren of East Aurora enjoys being the face of Section VI boys tennis in his senior season, freshman Greg Hastings of North Tonawanda patiently waits for a chance to become the future of the sport in Western New York.
For one final year, it was McClaren – the savvy vet – who outlasted the young Hastings and the rest of a talented field to repeat as the Section VI singles champion at Lancaster High School on Tuesday.
McClaren defeated Hastings, 6-0, 6-3 in the final and became the first to win back-to-back singles titles since Lancaster’s Mike Kranz won in 2011 and 2012.
“It’s really nice to be able to come here and defend my title,” said McClaren, who will play Division III tennis at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs this fall. “The match was a lot tougher than the scores sound. I’m really excited to go to back states in New York City.”
McClaren knows the amount of talent Hastings brings as the two play at the same tennis club, Miller Tennis Center in Williamsville.
“I was pretty familiar with his game so I knew that he was potentially dangerous and knew that it would be a difficult match and it was,” McClaren said.
“He has many more years of playing high school tennis and I know he’s going to do very well.”
McClaren cruised for much of the tournament, losing only five games. He defeated Cooper Miller of Falconer-Jamestown (6-1, 6-1) in the semifinals. He opened sectionals with a win over Austin Robinson of MST Seneca (6-0, 6-0), and won against James McElhinny of Iroquois (6-0, 6-0) in the quarterfinals.
The senior standout hasn’t lost a set to a Section VI opponent since the sectionals of his sophomore year.
“It’s a learning experience for me playing against someone like Jack, he just didn’t miss at all,” said Hastings, who will make his second trip to the state tournament. “I’m going to practice a lot this offseason and see where it goes from there.”
Joining McClaren as sectional champions was Orchard Park’s top doubles team of Kyle Schmitt and Dan Freilicher. They defeated Olean’s Jake Voltz and Logan Cross, 6-1, 6-3, in the finals.
Freilicher won the doubles championship last season, too, but played with the graduated Zander Korach.
“It feels great to win it again,” said Freilicher, who will play Division III tennis at Nazareth College. “Going to states is the best experience because you get to play in New York at the U.S. Open. It’s just so cool.”
Also qualifying for states was Miller of Falconer-Jamestown, who punched his ticket by defeating Ramzi Tahouk of City Honors, 6-1, 6-4, in the third-place singles match.
Orchard Park’s second doubles team of Alex Freilicher and Noah Sayoc will head to states after a three-set victory (7-5, 4-6, 6-4) over Amherst’s Tom Greco and Liam Sullivan in the third-place doubles match.
Section VI’s representatives will travel to the state tournament June 2-4 at National Tennis Center in Flushing.