LHSAA State Tennis Tournament Closes With Crowning of Division I & II Champion

By MIKE STROM // GeauxPreps.com Contributor

There was no discounting the team concept involved in Brother Martin’s ascent to the Division I boys state tennis championship.

With all eight of its entrants scoring at least one point, the Crusaders scratched out 12.5 points to edge Jesuit by one point for the team title in the Ochsner LHSAA State Tennis Tournament staged this week at UL-Monroe’s Heard Stadium.

Brother Martin secured its first state crown since 1987 by coaxing scoring from each of its two singles players and three doubles teams. The Crusaders succeeded St. Paul’s as Division I boys state champions.

“It was very, very much a team event,’’ Brother Martin coach Lee MacAlester said. “To win by one point, everybody had to contribute. Everyone on the team got us at least one point and obviously one point made (the difference). Our guys were super excited.’’

Brother Martin appeared to have secured the team title until Mitchell Armbruster was upset by Josh Verges of Jesuit in Friday’s singles semifinals, 7-5, 4-6, 7-3. The match resulted in a 2.5-point swing in favor of the runner-up Blue Jays, who scored 11.5 points, and forced the Crusaders to wait out the results of the singles final. Catholic of Baton Rouge and Barbe finished third and fourth respectively in the team competition with 9.5 and 7.5 points respectively.

Steven Rice of Barbe successfully defended his Division I Boys singles championship by defeating Verges, 6-0, 6-3, to win the singles final and in effect award Brother Martin the team championship. Rice and Verges’ pairing represented a rematch of their 2023 Division I state semifinals won by Rice, 6-3, 7-5.

Charles DuBos and Christian St. Martin of Catholic-Baton Rouge defeated Reed MacAlester and Sal Trujillo of Brother Martin, 6-1, 7-6, in the final to win the Division I boys doubles championship.

Reed MacAlester and Trujillo, Brother Martin’s No. 1 doubles team, earned 4 ½ points for the Crusaders by advancing to the boys doubles finals. Reed MacAlester, a freshman, and Trujillo, a junior, earned four points by winning four matches and earned an extra half point for reaching the final.

Armbruster earned three points for the Crusaders by reaching the singles semifinals where the Crusaders junior “lost a heart-breaker’’ to district rival Verges, according to MacAlester.

Senior Hayden Perrilloux earned a point for the Crusaders with a first-round singles victory before falling in the second round.

Senior Max Edwards and sophomore Dillan LaFrance, Martin’s No. 2 doubles team, earned two points by winning two matches before falling to Jesuit’s No. 1 doubles team in the third round.

Freshmen Grant Brewer and Brandon Hezeau, Martin’s No. 3 doubles team, also earned two points via two victories in advancing to the quarterfinals where they lost to Catholic’s No. 2 doubles team.

“So it was very much a team effort through and through,’’ Lee MacAlester said.

In another moment of truth, Reed MacAlester and Trujillo were two points away from losing to Barbe’s No. 1 doubles team in second round before prevailing. If MacAlester and Trujillo had lost, Jesuit would have wound up winning the state title.

“That would have switched the whole tournament,’’ Lee MacAlister said. “Barbe would have become runner-up. Jesuit would have won the title and we would have been in third.’’

Lee MacAlester actually entered the tournament expecting the Crusaders to win the team championship based on his personal calculations of the singles and doubles competitions.

“Everything pretty much went according to the way I thought it would go,’’ Lee MacAlester said. “My No. 1 guy (Armbruster) losing, he was probably was supposed to win that match, but hats off to Josh Verges from Jesuit. He stole that match from my guy. Mitchell had beaten him the last couple of times (they played). He beat him during the regular season. He beat him in the semifinals of regionals. Josh is a senior and he went out very, very strong. He played very well.

“Going in I had us winning by two and a half points. We won by one point instead. That one match (Armbruster versus Verges) was a point and a half difference. I’m just making pretty good educated guesses. Last year I got it exactly correct. This year I messed up on one match.’’

Brother Martin’s coach, in his seventh season, could not be more proud of the 2024 team’s achievement and the way in which the Crusaders handled victory and defeat.

“In all honesty, from a skill level point of view, this is not the best team that I’ve ever coached,’’ Lee MacAlester said. “I’ve had some other team where we had eight guys on the team who all had the ability to play college tennis. We don’t have that now. But they’re a really great group of kids that work very well together.

“Win or lose the match, when the match is over, they’re on the fence on the next court cheering for their teammates. There’s none of that, ‘I just lost. I’ll see everybody on the bus.’ They deal with (losing) for a minute or two and they’re right back to being teammates and cheering on their guys. I would say that’s our biggest asset, the camaraderie and brotherhood that we have.’’

Division I Girls

St. Joseph’s swept the singles and doubles championships Friday to easily win the Division I Girls team championship with 17.5 points to more than double runner-up Barbe’s 8 points. Dominican and Mount Carmel tied for third with 5 points apiece.

Ella Mancuso of St. Joseph’s defeated defending champion Natalie Devraj of Mandeville, 6-4, 6-4, to win the Division I Girls singles championship final. The pairing represented a rematch of a 2023 Division I state semifinals in which Devraj defeated Mancuso, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0, to advance to the final and then win the championship.

Laura Caroline Holliday and Cameron Raines of St. Joseph’s defeated teammates Adeline Hedges and Marie Sereda, 6-4, 6-3, in the final to win the Division I Girls doubles championship.

Division II Boys

St. Thomas More captured the Division II Boys team championship Friday in a close competition with Neville. The Cougars from Lafayette totaled 18 points to win the title while the Tigers from Monroe totaled 15 points. Vandebilt Catholic finished third with 7 points followed by Teurlings Catholic and Caddo Magnet, which tied for fourth with 4 points apiece.

Jackson McCrory of St. Thomas More defeated Mitchell Spence of Neville, 6-4, 7-5, to win the Division II Boys Singles championship final while teammates Will Gesser and John David McCrory of St. Thomas More defeated Benton Anzalone and Joseph Butler of Neville, 6-2, 6-4, to win the Division II Boys doubles championship final.

Division II Girls

My Anh Holmes of The Willow School won the Division II Girls singles championship in an all-Willow final and teammates Usha Ramdall and Maiou Zhang finished as girls doubles runner-ups to lead the Lady Lions to an easy successful defense of their team championship on Friday.

The Willow totaled 17.5 points to more than double Vandebilt Catholic’s runner-up total of 8 points. Hannan finished third with 7.5 points followed by Neville’s fourth-place total of 6 points.

My Anh Holmes also successfully defended her title by defeating My Linh Holmes, 6-1, 6-0, to win the Division II Girls singles final while Claire Cancienne and Avery Lewis of Hannan downed Ramdall and Zhang of The Willow, 6-0, 6-2, to win the doubles championship final.

Division III Boys

St. Louis Catholic repeated as the Division III Boys team champion Wednesday with 10.5 points behind Benjamin Reinauer’s march to the boys singles championship. University finished second with 6.5 points followed by Holy Savior Menard in third with 6 points and Loyola Prep fourth with 5.5 points.

Reinauer defeated Jett Nguyen of Acadiana Renaissance Charter, 7-5, 6-3, in the Division III Boys final. Cameron Brown and Duke Stein of University defeated Ravi Ahuja and James Graf of Loyola Prep, 7-5, 6-0, in the boys doubles championship.

Reinauer of St. Louis was a state semifinalist last season while Nguyen of Acadiana Renaissance advanced to the finals and Ahuja and Graf of Loyola were doubles state finalists.

Division III Girls

University swept the singles and doubles championships in winning the Division III Girls team championship with 14 points on Wednesday. The Lady Cubs, state runner-ups in 2023, easily out-distanced reigning state champion Newman, which totaled 8.5 points. Loyola Prep finished third with 6 points with Sacred Heart and E.D. tying for fourth with 5 points each.

Mary Longmire of University successfully defended her title in the Division III Girls singles competition with a 6-0, 6-1, victory against Merrill Eglin of Episcopal in the finals while Lauren Longmire and Zoe Stein of University defeated Frances Casbarian and Macy Montgomery of Newman, 6-4, 7-5, in the doubles championship final.

Division IV Boys

Vermilion Catholic swept the Division IV Boys and Girls team championships Wednesday, with the VC boys scoring 8.5 points to edge St. Martin’s by a point for the boys team championship despite not winning either a singles or doubles championship in the individual competition.

St. Martin’s and Country Day finished second and third in the Division IV Boys team scoring with 7.5 and 7.0 points respectively. Ascension Episcopal finished fourth with 6.5 points.

Patrick LaForge of St. Martin’s successfully defending his Division IV Boys singles championship by defeating John Fontenot of Vermilion Catholic, 6-4, 6-1, in the Division IV Boys singles championship final.

Noah Trawick and David Daly of Ascension Episcopal also successfully defended their Division IV Boys doubles championship by defeating Brennan Pierce and Joshua Miller of Ascension Christian, 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, in the final.

Division IV Girls

Vermilion Catholic’s girls rode the doubles championship by Emma Williams and Ali Broussard to win the Division IV Girls team championship with 9.5 points. St. Frederick and defending state champion Louis McGehee tied for second with 7.5 points apiece followed by Episcopal of Acadiana in fourth with 7 points.

Williams and Broussard of Vermilion Catholic defeated Florence Dupuy and Ana King of Louise McGehee, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, in the Division IV Girls doubles final.

Paras Odudu of St. Frederick won the singles championship by defeating Savana Schmitz of Oak Grove, 6-3, 6-2, in the final. Odudu was a state semifinalist last season.