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Lourdes again ends up state runner-up

Breck shows Eagles why they’re No. 1-ranked

By Pat Ruff

pruff@postbulletin.com

MINNEAPOLIS — Not long before taking on Breck in the state Class A boys tennis championship Wednesday at Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center, the Rochester Lourdes players had a discussion.

The gist of it was that this next high school tennis off-season needed to include more tennis than ever before.

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The Eagles — one of the youngest and most talented teams in the state — have a strong desire to win a state title.

Well, after being thoroughly humbled by Breck in Wednesday’s state championship, it looks as if the Eagles were right on in assessing how to address their off-season.

Yes, if they have any hope of catching up with Breck — not to mention sticking in the neighborhood of other serious state contenders Blake and St. Paul Academy — there is work to be done. Breck, ranked No. 1 in the state, looked every bit the part against Lourdes, winning 6-1 in claiming its first state championship since 2001. It was Lourdes’ second straight trip to the finals, after falling to St. Paul Academy in last year’s title round.

Like Breck, Lourdes breezed in its semifinal dual Wednesday, bouncing Holy Family Catholic 6-1. Breck blasted Benson 7-0 in its semifinal, after narrowly escaping rival Blake 4-3 in Tuesday’s quarterfinals. Breck was ranked No. 1, St. Paul Academy No. 2, Lourdes No. 3 and Blake No. 4. Blake had beaten SPA in its section championship.

"We knew that on paper, Breck looked really good," Lourdes coach Kevin Rust said. "And then they came out and were really ready to play. The bottom line is, they just outplayed us today."

The scary thing about the Mustangs is that not only are they super talented, but they’re just as young as Lourdes. They’ll lose just one player to graduation, No. 1 singles man Will Oberrlender. And they have a lineup loaded with high-end young guys like eighth-grader Myles Tang, who put on show at No. 2 singles. He devoured Lourdes’ Robert Turlington — also considered one of the top young players in the state —

6-1, 6-0.

In 2010, Breck will have just two seniors in its lineup. Lourdes will have three.

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So yes, the Mustangs are going to be around for a while. And yes, Lourdes has some serious work to do in order to rise to their level.

"On the bus ride over here, we were all talking about how we need to spend more time playing tennis over the summer," said Lourdes No. 1 singles player Ben Kopecky, who had the only win against Breck, downing Oberrlender 6-4, 6-1. "We need everyone to do it. The effort was there by everybody today. But we just need more guys to do more in the off-season."

When the dual was over, there was some question about whether Lourdes might have made it closer had it gone with a different lineup. It had a choice of three to select from in playing Breck. Rust went with one that was slightly tilted toward making hay in singles.

He too wondered in the end whether it was the right move. But he didn’t wonder long.

"I put out a lineup that I thought had a chance to win at every spot," said Rust, whose team finished 21-3 overall. "But it turned out that at No. 2, 3 and 4 singles, they were just stronger than us. And their No. 3 doubles team really stepped up."

STATE CLASS A TEAM TOURNAMENT

SEMIFINALS

LOURDES 6, HOLY FAMILY CATHOLIC 1

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Singles: Ben Kopecky (L) def. Sam Puff 6-0, 6-1; Robert Turlington (L) def. Max Henkel 6-0, 6-0; Connor Rust (L) def. David Forbes 6-0, 6-0; Luca Farrugia (L) def. Erik Elton 6-0, 6-1. Doubles: Javon Bea/Brian Utz (L) def. Taylor Curtis/Matt Makis 6-4, 5-7, 6-4; Ryan Menden/Connor Oberle (HFC) def. Ross Haller/Gavin Clark 2-6, 6-2, 6-4; Kyle McGrane/Alan Schembri-Wismayer (L) def. Remington Riehl/Tyler Smith 6-1, 7-6 (7-3).

FINALS

BRECK 6, LOURDES 1

Singles: Kopecky (L) def. Will Oberrlender 6-4, 6-1; Myles Tang (B) def. Robert Turlington 6-1, 6-0; Eric Chien (B) def. Brian Utz 6-0, 6-1; Felix Mettke (B) def. Connor Rust 6-4, 6-1. Doubles: Andrew Engel/Daniel Carpenter (B) def. Bea/Clark 6-1, 6-0; Brenham Wong/Grant Bemis (B) def. Haller/McGrane 6-2, 6-7 (8-6), 6-4; Trotter Oberrender/Max Berman (B) def. Farrugia/Schembri-Wismayer 6-2, 6-3.

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