MINNEAPOLIS – Varun Iyer would have loved a crack at a Class AA state singles championship under more normal circumstances.
Still, the Century senior was trying not to make excuses. Instead, he was celebrating a career gone extremely well and Saturday’s state runner-up finish that went with it.
He was also celebrating his championship opponent, Mounds View’s Bjorn Swenson. Swenson is not only the best freshman in the state, but the record books will now show that he was the best player in the state. He’s the champion.
The smooth and powerful-stroking Swenson beat Iyer 6-2, 6-4 in the state finals at the University of Minnesota’s Baseline Tennis Center.
“Bjorn came out firing,” Iyer said of Swenson, who he beat in two tough sets earlier this season. “The credit goes to him. He was better than me today.”
Even though Iyer made an effort not do it once the match was done, there was a ready-made excuse waiting for him.
Simply, it was that he was exhausted heading into the finals and Swenson was less so.
That’s because just two hours before the final, No. 3 seed Iyer had just finished winning a three-set match 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (7-2) that included a tie-breaker over No. 2 seed Max Zagrebelny of Eagan.
Swenson wasn’t tested the same way. His semifinal win was an easier 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 over unseeded Kathik Papisetty of Orono.
“I was really fatigued from my previous match,” said Iyer, who packed together a terrific tie-breaker that include some deftly hit drop shots in beating Zagrebelny. “My legs just weren’t as good as I wanted them to be.
“In that second set I fought for every point, but in the end Bjorn was just too good.”
Swenson knows how good – and how athletic – Iyer can be.
“He’s like a cheetah out there,” Swenson said. “He’s really fast and just extremely athletic out there.
“He gets to everything.”
In the end, Iyer – who suffered his only loss of the season in falling to Swenson – wished he could have gotten to a few more.
“I tried to be more aggressive in the second set but it didn’t really work for me,” Iyer said. “Bjorn kind of figured me out in the end. I wanted to hit more backhands, but he wasn’t giving me many.”
When it was all done, Iyer, a future Carleton College player, couldn’t help but fondly look back at a six-year Century career that had so much fulfillment.
It included him winning a state doubles title as a sophomore and his Panthers twice landing second in the state team tournament.
“I’m just extremely proud of all that I and our team were able to do,” he said. “And now I’ll take my tennis career to Carleton College.”
KENNEL LANDS FIFTH
Mayo singles player Simon Kennel finished his career as a winner. Kennel, who lost his first match in the tournament, came back to win his next three to finish fifth overall.
Kennel romped to a 6-0, 6-0 win in his final match.
Semifinals: Varun Iyer (Century) def. Max Zagrebelny (Eagan) 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (7-2); Bjorn Swenson (Mounds View) def. Kathik Papisetty (Orono) 6-1, 3-6, 6-2. Championship: Swenson (Mounds View) def. Iyer (Century) 6-2, 6-4. Third place: Zagrebelny (Eagan) def. Papisetty (Orono) 6-0, 6-2. Consolation semifinals: Simon Kennel (Mayo) def. Stewart Morrell (Elk River) 6-1, 6-0; Joe Mairs (Blake) def. Patrick Moraghan (Brainerd) 6-2, 6-0. Fifth place: Kennel (Mayo) def. Joe Mairs (Blake) 6-0, 6-0.
Semifinals: Sourabh Terakanambi/Nisal Liyanage (Eastview) def. Michael Cao/Christo Alex 6-3, 6-3; Luke Fridinger/Caleb Fridinger (East Ridge) def. Emmanuel Alex/Petro Alex (Mounds View) 6-1, 6-4. Championship: Terakanambi/Liyanage (Eastview) def. Fridinger/Fridinger (East Ridge) 4-6, 6-3, 7-5. Third place: Cao/Christo Alex (Mounds View) def. Emmanuel Alex/Petro Alex (Mounds View) 6-1, 7-2. Fifth place: Ben Peterson/Chris Hall (Blake) def. Luke Westholder/Otto Schreiner (Edina) 5-7, 6-4, 10-6.