Special season ends for Grangers
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
A special season came to a close on a picture-perfect spring afternoon for the LaGrange High boys’ tennis team.
Facing a formidable St. Pius X team in the opening round of the Class AAAA state tournament, LaGrange came up short on Tuesday at the McCluskey Tennis Center.
St. Pius won four of the matches, and the fifth match was pulled since the outcome had been decided.
Senior Pierce Skinner, LaGrange’s number one singles player, was leading comfortably when his match was pulled.
It was the final match for three members of the LaGrange lineup, including Skinner, who held down the number one spot all season.
It was also the farewell match for doubles players Cole Crocker and James Lee, who were staples in the lineup throughout the season.
Skinner was a four-year starter for LaGrange, and he was able to help the program maintain the lofty standard it has had over the years.
Over the past four seasons, LaGrange won two region championships and finished second twice while winning a handful of matches in the state tournament.
“It’s crazy that it’s over,” Skinner said. “My freshman year, I came in looking at what the team had been in the past with the great players. They were winning region championships, going far at state. That’s what was expected.”
Skinner has gone from being the young guy on the team to being the veteran with the most match experience.
Skinner has embraced that role, and he enjoys holding down the number one singles slot.
“I enjoy being in that position,” Skinner said. “You always want to play the best guys. So, coming into every match, I had confidence in myself. That helped me carry on.”
Skinner added that “when you know the team is looking up to you, that helps you fight harder. I tried to get the young guys to see what we need to do.”
LaGrange head coach Kenny Moore has enjoyed the opportunity to get to know Skinner over the years.
“He’s been so special, and part of my life,” Moore said. “I taught him for a couple of years, I’ve had him in tennis for five years. And we’ve talked about everything under the sun, the two of us. He’s just such a special guy.”
Moore added that “he’s done a really good job at that number one spot. We talk about that a lot, playing number one at LaGrange is a tough chore. We go to a lot of places and play really good competition.”
Another senior, Cole Crocker, came up short in his final match, with he and teammate Albert Kim falling short at number two doubles.
James Lee is a junior, but he’ll be graduating early so he won’t be returning next season.
Lee and Youngha Cho lost at number one doubles.
Jinseong Jun lost at number two singles, and Baker Skinner fell at number three singles.