Lourdes, Mayo doubles teams place second in state in tennis
A scoreboard of boys tennis matches.
MINNEAPOLIS — Lourdes and Mayo both had a doubles team come ever so close to winning a state championship in the individual portion of the boys tennis state tournament on Friday.
In Class A, the Lourdes tandem of Ethan Leeser and Freddie Suhler was the No. 2 seed. They advanced to the state finals when they rallied past No. 3 seed Leo Benson and Maik Nguyen of St Paul Academy Summit for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory.
“I’m pretty proud of those guys for grinding the way they did to get that far anyway,” Lourdes coach Steve Tacl said. “They had to come back from a set down in the semi(final) to, which is not easy to do.”
In the state finals, Lesser and Suhler, both seniors, went three sets against the top-seeded team of Dylan Hahn and Jack Onkka of Thief River Falls. The first two sets went to tiebreaker as Hahn and Onkka pulled out a narrow 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 6-3 victory to claim the championship.
“Obviously it’s disappointing to lose, but I think the main disappointment is just the fact that we’re seniors and the season’s over,” Leeser said.
The first two sets of the match had plenty of twists and turns. Lesser and Suhler had three set points to win the first set, but Hahn and Onkka rallied to win in a tiebreaker.
Hahn and Onkka were close to winning the match in straight sets. They were up 5-2 in the second set and led 40-love in the eighth game. But Lesser and Shuler rallied to win the eighth game and then came back to win the set in a tiebreaker.
“All in all, I can be satisfied with how me and Ethan performed and fought back and didn’t give up until the very last point,” Suhler said. “I think that’s the biggest take away.”
Hahn and Onkka proved to be just a bit more steadier in the decisive third set.
“It was winnable, but I’m not mad at how we played,” Leeser said. “I was happy with our effort and how we kind of pulled that second set off. We battled overall so I was happy with that.”
• In Class AA, Mayo's third-seeded duo of eighth-grader Tej Bhagra and senior Spencer Busch rallied past the No. 2 seeded team of Sam Rathmanner and Brandon Pham of Mahtomedi in the semifinals. Bhagra and Busch came back from a set down to win 5-7, 7-5, 6-2.
“We had a really good win in the semifinals,” Mayo coach Jeff Demaray said.
Bhagra and Busch led 5-4 in the first set before Rathmanner and Pham won the final three games to take the set. But the Mayo duo rebounded nicely to win the next two sets to advance to the finals.
“We were able to regain our composure and were able to win the second set and then played a heck of a third set,” Demaray said.
In the championship match, the No. 1 seed of Matias Maule and Sam Skanse of Orono needed three sets to top Bhagra and Busch. The Orono duo won 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to claim the title.
“It was great tennis and that’s all you can ask your team to do is to play well,” Demaray said. “We had some opportunities, but you also have to credit the Orono team.”
Demaray said the third set "was high quality doubles tennis." The deciding set was tied at 3-3 and 4-4 and Mayo had break points in each game. But each time the squad from Orono won the game.
“It looked like for a second there we were going to do it, but you have to credit the other team,” Demaray said. “Sometimes it's just a handful of points that make the difference.”
• Lourdes junior Marjan Veldic had his hopes of winning a state singles championship dashed in the Class A state semifinals.
Veldic, ranked No. 1 in the state in Class A, suffered a 7-6 (2), 6-0 loss to fourth-seeded Isaac Maddock of Osakis Secondary in the state semifinals.
“The semifinals was tough,” Tacl said. “I don’t think he played his best and I think it was tough for him to find some rhythm.”
In the third-place match, Veldic bounced back to top unseeded Tate Reichmann of Minnewaska Area/BBE 6-4, 4-6, 10-7.
“He played OK and he was able to sneak out a win,” Tacl said. “But I think he’s looking to the future and thinking ‘How can I not let this happen again.’ ”
No. 2 Evan Fraser of Mounds Park Academy defeated Maddock 6-3, 6-1 in the championship match.
• In Class AA doubles consolation play, Mayo's Philip Wisniewski and Ben Erickson won in the first round before falling in the second round.
Asher Monson of Schaeffer Academy lost in the first round of the consolation bracket in Class A singles play.
Ryan Heise and Elijah Miller of Lake City lost in the first round of the consolation bracket in Class A doubles.