The boys’ tennis state tournament is still more than a month away, but the argument about which team is the best in Minnesota was largely settled Saturday at the Edina Invitational.
Blake, the No. 1 team in Class 1A, opened with a 6-1 victory over Mahtomedi, bested Wayzata, the top-ranked team in Class 2A, 5-2 in the semifinals, and rolled over host Edina 6-1 in the final.
Throw in Blake’s victory over defending Class 1A champion Breck last week, and the Bears have staked their claim as the top boys’ tennis team in the state.
“We don’t have the chance to play the double-A teams in the state tournament,” junior captain Taylor Parr said. “So winning a tournament like this, which is stacked with great double-A teams, is our chance to show how good we are.”
Always on the short list of boys’ tennis powers, Blake elevated itself from contender to favorite when senior Kai Skallerud returned to the team after missing his junior year. Skallerud’s versatility strengthened the Bears’ already strong lineup, allowing them to move him around to positions where points were needed.
After playing doubles in his first two matches Saturday, Skallerud took over at No. 3 singles in the final and made short work of Edina’s Aanik Lohani, winning in straight sets. That set the tone for the rest of the match; Blake won at every position except No. 1 singles.
That match, between highly-regarded players Max Olson of Edina and Charlie Adams of Blake, was expected to be a must-see slugfest. But the dramatics never materialized as Adams, worn down after two tough matches, had little left.
“He just didn’t have his legs under him,” assistant coach Mike Ach said.
It didn’t matter. Sophomore Kavir Kumar and eighth-grader Ben Ingvar won the other two singles matches and the Bears swept the doubles.
• CHAMPLIN PARK 6, BEMIDJI 0: Senior Trevor Naslund threw a three-hitter as the Rebels shut out the Lumberjacks. Teammate Bryce Marquardt, also a senior, went 2-for-2 with a double and triple and three stolen bases. Bemidji was the Class 3A state runner-up last year.
• BENILDE-ST. MARGARET’S 3, TOTINO-GRACE 1: Junior Jimmy Cron pitched a three-hitter in his first varsity start, leading the Red Knights past the Eagles in a nonconference matchup. Cron struck out six and walked one.