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Lourdes boys tennis team shows its might in handling No. 4 Breck

No. 2 Eagles have their sights on something bigger.

Lourdes tennis.jpg
Lourdes No. 1 doubles player Charlie Young extends for a serve on Friday, May 13, 2022, as the Eagles took on Breck at Rochester Tennis Connection Outdoor Site in Rochester, Minn.
Pat Ruff / Post Bulletin
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The hope all season has been singular for the Lourdes boys tennis team.

It wants to finish this season as Class A state champion.

Judging by the way it dismantled No. 4-ranked Breck on Friday at Rochester Tennis Connection Outdoor Site, the Eagles have a great shot at it.

Lourdes, ranked No. 2, beat the state’s defending champion 5-2. And it did it in a manner that it has rolled with all season, getting it done as one.

That meant throughout the non-conference dual, Eagles players weren’t just focused on their own matches. They were also supporting each other, bellowing out “Let’s go Eagles!” over and over again, knowing all of their teammates were within earshot.

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It’s been quite a season for Lourdes, one full of desire and emotion from a collection that includes six hungry and passionate seniors — Ethan Leeser, Freddie Suhler, Easton Blissenbach, Will Pollock, Ethan Thompson and Jonathan Boughey.

“We’ve got a lot of seniors,” said Suhler, as emotional a player as Lourdes has, and a talented one, too. “We are all good friends and we hang out a lot. Here, we play tennis. That is our main thing. The biggest thing with us is the energy and support we give each other. Being able to play with all of these guys, it is amazing.”

It was Suhler and sophomore No. 1 doubles teammate Charlie Young who turned in the most amazing match on Friday. Suhler and Young struggled through a first-set loss, then won the second set in a tie-breaker before winning the deciding set in a super-breaker.

They just kept hanging in there and fighting.

“I just hope that all of us, if we are not doing well and we’re struggling, that we’re just never going to give up,” Suhler said. “I just want us to try our best and find a way to win, to leave it all out there on the court. Even had the tie-breaker not gone our way, I wouldn’t have been ashamed today. I feel like I really gave it my all in the tie-breaker and (super breaker). It was so fun.”

As well as Young played down the stretch, he didn’t hesitate who to hand the credit to. It was Suhler. The senior has a positive vibe that doesn’t quit, and through his own early struggles on Friday, Young needed that more than ever.

“Freddie is such a good leader and he is not about himself; he’s always about the team,” Young said. “He always wants the team to win, and he does a great job of leading our entire team. He creates an energy around everyone and creates such a good environment for all of us to play in.”

Lourdes used its tough lineup at the top of its singles order to blow through the top three spots. Junior star Marjan Veldic, who’s ranked No. 1 in Class A, buried his Breck opponent 6-2, 6-2. Leeser, who many regard as the top No. 2 singles player in Class A, also breezed 6-2, 6-0, as did No. 3 Evan Ritter, an eighth-grader (6-2, 6-3).

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In doubles, Lourdes got wins from Suhler/Young — 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 10-5 — and the No. 3 combination of Boughey and Blissenbach — 6-3, 7-6 (7-5).

Veldic was pleased with his own play against Breck, while Leeser was less pleased with his own. But they both have the same feeling about this Eagles team.

It’s that though they are ranked No. 2 behind St. Paul Academy, it won’t be their status at season’s end.

“I feel like we are going to win the state tournament,” Leeser said. “I think it because I see the work our team has put in, and I like to think that it will come out when it needs to, in the big moments.”

Veldic echoed those thoughts.

“We are second at state right now, but I think we are the No. 1 team and that we’re going to prove that at state this year,” he said. “We’re going to show them.”

Lourdes 5, Breck 2
Singles: Marjan Veldic (L) def. Zach Piehl 6-2, 6-2; Ethan Leeser (L) def. Nate Ernst 6-2, 6-0; Evan Ritter (L) def. Luis Kelly 6-2, 6-3; Evan Walsh (B) def. Nico Onigkeit 3-6, 6-4, 10-3. Doubles: Freddie Suhler/Charlie Young (L) def. John Gorman/Patrick Green 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 10-5; Matt Berestka/Braden Barkmeier (B) def. Ethan Hubbard/Jack Fitzgerald 3-6, 6-3, 6-3; Jonathan Boughey/Easton Blissenbach def. Seabass Cherian/Ivers Emerson 6-3, 7-6 (7-5).

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(Blooming Prairie, Caledonia/Spring Grove, Chatfield, Winona Cotter, Dover-Eyota, GMLOKS, RACE, Hayfield, Kenyon-Wanamingo/Goodhue, La Crescent, Lake City, Lanesboro/Fillmore Central/Mabel-Canton), Lewiston-Altura, Lyle/Pacelli, Medford, Pine Island, Lourdes, Rushford-Peterson, Houston, St. Charles, Triton, Wabasha-Kellogg, Zumbrota-Mazeppa)

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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