There are times when the numbering system in high school tennis is simply misleading. Thursday was one of those times.
Joe Wegner, Legacy's No. 3 singles player, found himself the lightning rod in the championship dual at the West Region boys tennis tournament. And he came through, defeating Minot's Rory Taney 6-2, 6-1 as Legacy downed Minot 3-2 for the regional title at the Capital Racquet and Fitness Center.
Legacy, as it had in the quarterfinals and semifinals, swept the three singles matches. For the day, Legacy's singles players went 9-0, losing just six games.
Legacy coach Scott McPherson said Wegner, a senior, made him look good.
"I had two different lineups I could have used. Fortunately, today I picked the right one. Joe Wegner has played vastly improved tennis over the last month, and that was the deciding factor," McPherson said.
"We've got the best 1 and 2 players (Michael Janes and Bradley Moylan) in the conference, so they know how we're going to go," McPherson added. "So we had to match up in a way that we could get that third point, and today that was Joe Wegner."
Wegner defeated Makai Ogoshi 6-0, 6-0 as the Sabers blanked Bismarck 6-0 in the quarterfinals. He trimmed Century's Andrew Peterson 6-1, 6-2 in the semifinals before taking on Taney.
"Normally I'd play No. 1 or No. 2 doubles, but coach had faith in me today. ... My (regular season singles) record in the West was 4-2, so I knew I was the man who had to do the job," Wegner said. "We knew our No. 1 and No. 2 would win (in singles) and we knew the doubles would be really tough, so I knew I had to win."
Legacy and Minot advance to next week's state tournament in Grand Forks as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds from the West, respectively. Century earned the No. 3 slot with a 3-2 state-qualifying win over Williston. Jamestown advances as the No. 4 seed following a 4-1 win over Mandan in a state qualifier.
Wegner struggled at the outset of the season before righting himself during the second week in September. McPherson said the 6-foot-2 senior was fighting himself, overreacting to every mistake.
Once Wegner got control of that issue early last month he was a different player, according to McPherson.
"I'm pretty proud of him. He was very composed and focused today. His level of concentration throughout the match was very good," the coach observed.
Like McPherson, Wegner says it's the mental part of the game that's made him a more effective player.
"I'm mentally tougher. I focused on that so I could go farther in WDA and state," he said. "I used to get really angry at myself when I made a mistake. Now when I miss a shot, I'm surprised and I keep on going. I don't let it get to me."
Wegner began playing tennis in middle school.
"My dad (Dave) used to play when he was in high school. I started when I was in the seventh grade. He said it would be right up my alley, and he was right."
Wegner played both basketball and tennis until his freshman year.
"That's when I really started to focus on tennis," he recalled.
Regional tournament action resumes today a 10 a.m. with the beginning of the singles and doubles tournaments. The singles and doubles competition resumes Saturday, with eight singles players and eight doubles teams earning state berths.