East Ridge tennis player Benjamin Van der Sman celebrated his 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 defeat over Mounds View's Hunter Krebsbach during the High School boy's state tennis tournament at the U of M's Baseline Tennis Center, Tuesday, June 3, 2014 in Minneapolis, MN.
Maybe mornings aren’t so bad after all.
Playing the 8 a.m. Tuesday match of the Class 2A boys’ tennis state tournament quarterfinals, East Ridge pulled off the upset of the day, ousting No. 1-seeded Mounds View 4-3.
The victory advanced the Raptors to the semifinals at 8 a.m. Wednesday against Minnetonka, which defeated Rochester Mayo 4-3, for a chance at a state championship. The other semifinal will pit defending Class 2A champion Wayzata against Elk River, which won the team title in 2012. Wayzata defeated Mahtomedi 5-2 while Elk River downed St. Cloud Tech 5-2.
Drawing the tournament’s first match didn’t thrill East Ridge senior Greg Sharrow, a five-year varsity veteran, or his coach, Suzie Heideman, both avowed late sleepers.
But the opponent was Suburban East Conference rival Mounds View, the No. 1-ranked team in Class 2A. Hardly a reason for East Ridge players to hit the snooze button, since it was the matchup for which they were hoping. The only blemish on the Raptors’ season had been a 5-2 loss to the Mustangs, a match they felt was much closer than the score appeared.
“We always say we celebrate the victories and learn from the losses,” Heideman said. “I feel we learned a lot from that loss. We wanted the chance to avenge that.”
Mounds View’s strength was in its doubles. The Mustangs were accustomed to sweeping all three doubles matches and scratching out a point or two at singles. That strategy fell apart when Sharrow and partner Yifan Lu routed the usually reliable Henry Morris and Carter Jones 6-2, 6-4 at No. 1 doubles, essentially negating Mounds View’s advantage.
“We didn’t expect to lose there,” Mounds View coach Mike Cartwright said. “That’s our strength. But East Ridge played very well and deserved to win.”
The gregarious Sharrow was visibly pumped after the match, acknowledging that the doubles point he and Lu provided was crucial.
“I love playing doubles,” Sharrow said. “The last time we played them in doubles, we were leading them 4-0 in the first set before it fell apart. I thought if we kept it close, we had a chance to beat them.”
Sharrow admitted to playing one of the best matches of his life with far less rest than he was used to.
“I hate mornings,” Sharrow said. “But it didn’t matter much, because I didn’t go to bed until 12 [midnight] anyway. Now, I feel like I could go out and play another match. I’m ready to go.”
As if the pressure of playing in the state tournament isn’t enough, Minnetonka junior Joey Millard played the third set of his No. 4 singles match against Rochester Mayo’s Charles Bengtson thinking that a team victory hung in the balance.
With only six courts in the main building at the University of Minnesota’s Baseline Tennis Center, the No. 4 singles match is generally moved to auxiliary courts away from the primary viewing area. Millard had no way of knowing that the Skippers’ No. 1 doubles team still was playing.
“I thought it was all up to me,” Millard said. “Just another thing to deal with.”
Millard fought through the nerves to win his match 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, giving the Skippers a 4-3 victory over Rochester Mayo.
“I started making a lot of errors in the second set,” he said. “In the third set, I changed some things up and he started making the mistakes. This really, really feels good.
A tournament veteran despite being still in 10th grade, Wayzata’s Nick Beaty said he didn’t appreciate how good the defending champion Trojans were in 2013 until they began their path toward repeating.
“We lost a lot of really good seniors from last year, and we had to spend a lot of time this year shifting people around and figuring things out,” said Beaty, who has moved smoothly into the Trojans’ No. 1 singles role this season.
Beaty, who won his No. 1 singles match Tuesday, said the team gelled just in time for the section tournaments.
“We’ve been a tight-knit team all year, but we finally put it all together just before sections,” Beaty said. “We turned up the intensity. This time of year, it’s one loss and you’re done. And it’s a lot of fun.”
If teams were seeded in the Class 1A team tournament according to the coaches association rankings, the results of the team quarterfinals pretty much went to form. Well, almost.
No. 1-ranked Blake downed Mound Westonka 7-0 and will face No. 3-ranked Breck, a 7-0 victor over Luverne, in Wednesday’s 8 a.m. semifinal. The other semifinal will pit No. 2 Rochester Lourdes, which defeated Virginia 7-0, against No. 7 Thief River Falls at 10 a.m. The Prowlers used a pair of three-set victories at Nos. 2 and 3 singles to outlast No. 5 Foley 4-3.
The championship match in both classes will take place at 4 p.m.
Jim Paulsen • 612-673-7737