Savannah freshman Cole Horton has blazed his way through the MEC in his debut season, and he’s just getting started.

Horton earned a place in sectionals after winning the Class 1 District 16 singles championship 6-0, 6-0 over Maryville’s Matt Goodridge Friday at Northwest Missouri State.

The district champion leads the way for Savannah tennis, who became MEC Conference Champions behind a 6-0 score.

The team held its own this regular season with a 14-0 mark, sweeping the Benton Invitational in its final regular season tournament.

“I just love hanging with the team. The team’s awesome. They’re all funny,” Horton said. “They’re all great to be around. It’s great playing tennis with all of them.”

First-year head coach Wakefield Hare said the Savages’ success comes from laying the groundwork prior to the season.

“The sole reason we’re performing so well in this season is because of the work the guys have put in really going back a few years for most of them, and then in the case of Cole Horton, it’s years and years of play,” Hare said. “That’s really what matters, number of reps times quality of reps equals success on the courts.”

Hare added Horton’s accomplishments in his first year wearing the black and gold comes from years of practice.

“What a lot of these guys do not see is the fact that he loses more than he wins, because he’ll go and play Kansas City and Missouri Valley competition, and you see him out here like, ‘Oh, look, it’s dominance,’ like that was forged on the back of some really tough matches,” Hare said. “That’s what you love to see is guys put themselves in moments that they have to grow.”

On an unstoppable path so far, Horton said Ware helps to remind him that focusing is key.

“He tells me that just it’s a mental game, and you need to get your head in the game because it helps with everything — your stroke, your serve your volleys. It just helps to have a good mental set when you’re going in,” Horton said.

With all the new hardware this season, Savannah will look to add even more in the postseason, and Hare said the message remains clear for Horton.

“Cole’s in a different league in this area, and so the concern is, ‘Hey, can you get some quality, high pressure reps before you have to meet guys in Springfield?’ So we always want him to stay healthy, stay humble, but then also be aware, ‘How does it affect my end goal doing as well in state as possible?’” Hare said.

Savannah takes on Bishop LeBlond in the semifinals of team districts on Monday at Savannah High School.

MEC Boys Final Team Tennis Results

Savannah clinched the MEC Conference Championship behind a 6-0 score. Maryville placed second with 5-1. Benton finished in fifth at 2-4, while Bishop LeBlond came in sixth place with a 1-5 score.

Horton placed first in singles, Chillicothe’s Chase Corbin came in second, Maryville’s Matt Goodridge placed third, and Savannah’s Kaden Kennedy came in fourth.

Micaela Dea can be reached at micaela.dea@newspressnow.com.

Follow her on Twitter: @NPNowDea

Micaela Dea is a sports reporter for News-Press NOW. She graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Growing up in San Diego, Micaela loves to travel, meet new people, and tell stories. Have a story idea? Don't hesitate to email!

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