Reddy’s injury causes QHS boys tennis team to shuffle lineup heading into WB6 championships

Surya Reddy

Quincy High School's Surya Reddy watches his teammates during Tuesday's match against Quincy Notre Dame. Reddy suffered a fractured pinky and will sit out the remainder of the season. | Shane Hulsey photo

QUINCY — Surya Reddy immediately knew something was wrong.

During his No. 2 singles match in the Western Big 6 Conference regular-season finale against Galesburg on Monday, Reddy retreated to chase down a long ball from the Silver Streaks’ Keaton Empey.

“I tripped and fell, then I put my (left) hand out to brace myself,” Reddy said. “I dislocated my finger so I snapped it back, and I think that made it a little worse. It was bad.”

Reddy wanted to push through, but the people with his best interest at heart, like Blue Devils coach Mike Terry, advised against it.

“I still felt like I could play because I’m a righty,” Reddy said. “Coach wouldn’t let me play, so I was like, ‘I guess I should go to the hospital.’”

What Reddy thought was a dislocated pinky turned out to be a broken one, sidelining the sophomore for the postseason. In addition to playing at No. 2 singles, Reddy was also part of the Blue Devils’ No. 1 doubles pair with freshman Ethan Stark. So Reddy’s injury causes some major shake-ups in the postseason lineup. 

In both the WB6 championship and the Class AA postseason, teams can only bring six players — two doubles pairings and two singles players. Doubles partners must have played at least six matches together during the regular season to be eligible for the postseason.

This prompted Terry to move what was the No. 2 doubles partnership of Anderson Knapp and Jason Derian to No. 1 and Arrow Crist and Kael Holzgrafe, who played at No. 3 doubles during the regular season, to No. 2 beginning beginning this weekend in the conference tournament in Geneseo.

The unfortunate timing of Reddy’s injury presents new opportunities for players like Derian. He is ready for the challenge of playing No. 1 doubles, but he knows he has some big shoes to fill.

“Playing No. 1 doubles is fun, but it’s not like a celebration kind of thing,” Derian said. “It’s more taking on that role and filling that spot for (Reddy).”

Knapp said he and Derian have gone toe-to-toe with Reddy and Stark in practice, so the competition level they will face in the postseason will be nothing new.

“There’s definitely some added pressure, but we’ve had close matches with Surya and Ethan,” Knapp said. “I think playing against good competition like that is what will help us in the postseason.”

Derian’s accuracy combined with Knapp’s reach and power at 6-foot-4 make for a dangerous pairing.

“He’s a really strong player at the net, which is really useful, and not a lot of people have that skill,” Derian said. “Playing at the back, I put a lot of deep high shots, which forces other players to keep it short and hit it up to the net player, which lends to Anderson easily putting it away. Our styles are kind of set up for each other in a way.”

Like Derian and Knapp, Crist and Holzgrafe have complementary styles that translate well to doubles.

“Arrow and I really work well together,” Holzgrafe said. “Arrow is such a consistent player, and I like to put things away. He gets everything back, and then I just seem to put it away. We just complement each other’s actions.”

The opposites attract theory not only applies to their styles but their personalities, as well.

“(Holzgrafe) is definitely more upbeat than me,” Crist said. “He pumps us up and keeps things going.”

Stark will represent the Blue Devils in No. 2 singles and will not participate in doubles. Stark admits his heart sank a bit once he realized he and Reddy weren’t going to have a chance to pursue a state title together.

“I was pretty bummed out,” Stark said. “All of our hard work that we put in throughout the season and over the summer, and to have it happen when it did, it sucks.”

But Reddy and Stark will renew their partnership next season and plan to come back hungrier than before.

“This was supposed to be our year, but next year we’re going to win Big 6 and we’re going to make state,” Reddy said.

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