By Robert Przybylo
Being based in OKC has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the biggest downers for me is the lack of opportunities to see kids from the Tulsa powers, Union, Jenks, etc. So The Boneman made it his No. 1 priority to be at Heritage Hall all weekend for the Tournament of Champions in tennis.
Boy, I’m glad I did. That was the first time I’ve seen sophomore Omar Aly of Jenks. And wow, I’ll make sure that it is not the final time. What a skill set for only a sophomore. He was absolutely incredible.
In his semifinal match against a very respectable opponent in Cale Hammond from Bishop Kelley, Aly worked his way out of a tough spot in the first set and cruised in the second set.
That set the stage for an epic final against Union’s Eric West. I had briefly seen West last year at the state tournament covering Shawnee, but this was the first time I was actually concentrating on his game. And boy, does he pack a solid game as well.
A rain/mist delayed the tourney for three hours Saturday, leaving all matches to be played under that super tie-breaker rule (first to 10 points). So after West eked out the first set, 7-6, and Aly broke even at 6-4 in the second, we were cheated to just a tie-breaker.
Those first two sets lasted two hours, so there’s no telling what a final set had in store for everyone. My boy, Brandon, was shooting video for the event. After he was done, he could have left. Brandon said the quality of play was so good that even he didn’t want to leave.
Matches that started after the West-Aly match had begun were finishing well before the singles encounter had reached its conclusion.
I talked with both Eric and Omar before their final, and I couldn’t believe that Eric trounced Omar in their first meeting, 6-2, 6-0, at the Jenks Invitational.
In the end, West pulled out the victory, 10-8, in a wild tie-breaker that saw Eric get out to a huge start before Omar rallied to take his first lead at 6-5. For the final point, I thought Omar overhit on a second serve from Eric and dumped it into the net. No shame though.
Jenks and Union may meet up again and Eric and Omar may wage battle No. 3, but I can’t wait to see if the final encounter happens that second week of May at state.
Side note: And down goes my bracket. My gutsy pick of Xavier in the championship did not pan out. Hey, it happens.