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Busch, Bhagra team up to win Section 1AA doubles crown

Mayo's Spencer Busch and Tej Bhagra cruised to the Section 1AA doubles championship, winning both their matches in straight sets.

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Mayo’s Spencer Busch serves during a No. 3 singles Section 1AA boys tennis team championship match against Century on Friday, May 28, 2021, at Mayo High School in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin file photo
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FARMINGTON — Spencer Busch and Tej Bhagra line up as the perfect complement in doubles tennis.

On Thursday in the Section 1AA individual tennis tournament, Busch/Bhagra played like it.

The Mayo combination powered its way to the doubles final where it beat Mayo teammates Ben Erickson and Philip Wisniewski 6-2, 6-1. Busch/Bhagra beat a Lakeville North duo 6-0, 6-0 in the semifinals.

Erickson/Wisniewski downed Century’s Henry Kruse and Kian Rehfeldt in their semifinal match, 6-3, 6-1.

Both Mayo doubles teams now advance to the state individual tournament, which is June 9-10 at the University of Minnesota’s Baseline Tennis Center. Mayo will also be participating in the team tournament, June 7-8 at the same site.

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Bhagra, an eighth-grader, spent the regular season playing No. 1 singles for Mayo. As the No. 8-ranked player in the state, he was a handful for everyone he met there.

But having this opportunity to join Busch in doubles was too much to resist. A year ago, his brother, Ojas Bhagra, combined with Busch in the section and state tournaments. Ojas has since graduated, while Busch is a senior.

“Those two have played well together in the past,” Mayo coach Jeff Demaray said. “Spencer is a very good player and he really cuts the ball at the net. And Tej is so consistent and sets things up for Spencer on a regular basis. I think they’re going to be a team that contends for a state title.”

They are a contrast in size and skills. Eighth-grader Bhagra goes about 5-foot-7, while senior Busch is a solid 6-3.

They play differently, too. Bhagra is a baseline wizard, seemingly getting to everything and rarely missing back there. Busch has a massive serve and gobbles things up at the net in doubles with his tremendous reach.

Put those combinations of skills together, and it is imposing. Bhagra/Busch were not seriously tested Thursday.

“Spencer is massive at the net,” Bhagra said. “He can reach across to get everything, almost like pickleball. He can really put the ball away and his serve is so big. It was a fun day playing with him.”

Busch had just as good a time as his doubles teammate.

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“Tej can play the ball wherever he wants,” Busch said. “Plus, he is a really good returner (of serves). If he can get the ball away from the (opposing) net player, it’s almost like it’s (always) our point.”

This season will likely be the final one that Bhagra opts for doubles over singles in the individual tournament. He contemplated singles this time, but then he considered that this is Busch’s last season of high school tennis.

That was more than enough for the young star to commit to Busch, the team’s top leader.

“This year it’s doubles, and the rest of my years I will be in singles,” Bhagra said.

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Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or pruff@postbulletin.com.
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