State-ranked Mayo, Lourdes test each other
Kevin Rust keeps coming up with the same answer. And he means it.
"We just want good competition this time of year," the Rochester Lourdes boys tennis coach said.
Mayo coach Jeff Demaray will tell you the same thing. And he means it, too. That's what you get when you're eyeing the future, and your desire is to not just get to the state tournament, but do something once there.
That in mind, the Mayo and Lourdes tennis teams did each other a favor Monday afternoon at Mayo High School. They did it by taking the other on in a sparkling non-conference dual matching two of the top teams in the state. Mayo is ranked third in Class AA, Lourdes third in Class A.
Neither team is likely to change rankings after what happened Monday. They played about as even a tennis dual as possible, with Mayo finally emerging a 4-3 winner.
The Spartans got the win over previously unbeaten Lourdes on the strength of their prowess in three-set matches. There were four of them Monday, with Mayo winning three. Colin Rieke beat Connor Rust 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 at No. 3 singles, Alex Olsen and Eric Newman beat Javon Bea and Ross Haller 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 at No. 1 doubles, and Michael Poeschla and Takeru Wallaser beat Luca Farrugia and Alan Schembri-Wismayer 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 at No. 3 doubles.
Lourdes got its three-set win at No. 1 singles, where two of the state's top individuals went at it. Senior Ben Kopecky triumphed over sophomore Thomas Nath 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 in an often terrifically played match.
When the team dual was done, Mayo coach Jeff Demaray couldn't help but turn to the production of his No. 1 doubles team as possibly the biggest difference in this oh-so-close affair. He knew that beating the formidable duo of Bea and Haller was quite a feat.
Newman was thrilled with the outcome, also knowing that it could have gone either way. The Mayo and Lourdes players are extremely familiar with each other, with oodles of them taking lessons together at Rochester private clubs throughout the year.
"Lourdes is a great team — we know all those guys," Newman said. "There was a little bit of trash talking as the match went along today. But it was all in fun and games. But to win against Lourdes helps us. It gives us confidence."
In beating Lourdes, Mayo coach Jeff Demaray kept a streak alive. Mayo hasn't lost to Lourdes since Demaray began coaching the Spartans in 1991. But he knew that streak could just as easily have been snapped on Monday. Lourdes is that good.
"Lourdes has an outstanding team; they're a state championship contender," said Demaray, whose Spartans swept the doubles and got Rieke's win at No. 3. singles for their four points. Rieke hasn't lost this season.
Mayo 4, Lourdes 3
Singles: Ben Kopecky (M) def. Thomas Nath 2-6, 6-3, 6-3; Robert Turlington (L) def. Eric Rustad 6-1, 6-2; Colin Rieke (M) def. Connor Rust 6-3, 2-6, 6-2; Brian Utz (L) def. Kevin Kallmes 6-0, 6-4. Doubles:Alex Olsen/Eric Newman (M) def. Javon Bea/Ross Haller 4-6, 6-4, 7-5; T. Connor Shives/Brice Deschamps-Barrette (M) def. Tomas Benzo/Kyle McGrane 6-3, 6-4; Michael Poeschla/Takeru Wallaser (M) def. Luca Farrugia/Alan Schembri-Wismayer 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.