CARBONDALE — After having their two-year conference championship streak snapped by Centralia last year, the Carbondale Terriers got back their No. 1 player and came back with a vengeance, winning four of the six championship matches to beat Mount Vernon by six points at the South Seven Conference boys tennis championships on Saturday.
“It’s nice," said Carbondale coach Mike Butler. “When Zach came back it was a great feeling because Zach Pereira is a better individual as a student and a person than he is a tennis player. He added to our athletic program when he came back and was just named Athlete of the Year at Carbondale High School after making state in golf this year, and now he will be, hopefully, a three-time state qualifier for tennis. But the thing is, he makes our team chemistry better because he is a true leader.”
Mount Vernon also made a big jump from finishing last, fourth and last the previous three seasons. Marion finished third two points behind Mount Vernon after finishing second the last two seasons. with Belleville Althoff fourth and defending champion Centralia fifth.
The Terriers won No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4 singles and No. 2 doubles. while finishing second at No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles.
Pereira returned from a one-year absence from Carbondale and tennis to win his third conference championship in three tries with a 6-0, 6-0, win over Mount Vernon sophomore Daniel Song to win No. 1 singles. He won his first match, 6-1, 6-0, over Belleville Althoff junior Stone Galloway.
“My first match was tough at the beginning because it was windy at practice Friday and I never got a feel for my strokes, so that first match was like a warm up to get my head in the right mindset for the finals, and Stone made me play very well to win,” Pereira said. “Daniel is a great player. He always gets the ball in play, but I was able to set up to the ball very well and felt comfortable and that’s what’s important for me. When I can get aggressive and come to the net my game is flowing.”
Pereira had previously won the No. 2 doubles title with partner Haroon Makhdoom as a freshman and the No. 2 singles title as a sophomore. He then spent a year in South Carolina with his dad his junior year, where he gave up tennis and took up golf.
During his year away, Pereira kept his championship streak alive by being a member of his state championship golf team. This year he returned to live with his mother and picked tennis back up, while continuing with golf.
“I took a whole year off from tennis to rest the body and picked up the golf game a little bit, which wasn’t too shabby,” Pereria said. “Our golf team had won seven straight championships, so I got to become part of the legacy.”
Junior Tyler Sherrill won his first conference title with a 6-3, 6-4, win over Mount Vernon senior Gerett Benjamin at No. 3 singles. Senior Marcos Lightfoot also won his first conference title with a hard-fought 7-6, 7-6, win over Marion sophomore Luke Motsinger at No. 4 singles.
Mount Vernon senior Will Walton won the No. 2 singles title with a 7-6, 6-1, win over junior Jack Butler.
At No. 1 doubles, junior Logan Holderfield won his second straight double title by teaming with sophomore Jarrett Baker and coming from behind to beat the Carbondale team of sophomore Will Bruns and junior Phen Grant, 2-6, 6-1, 10-3. Last year Holderfield teamed with Sam Childers, who finished third at No. 2 singles, to also win the No. 1 doubles title as a sophomore.