The first set in the Class 1A boys’ tennis singles championship looked destined for a tiebreaker.
That’s how close the play was between Blake teammates Jack Barker and freshman Joe Mairs on Friday at Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center in south Minneapolis. They held serve until the top-seeded Barker won a break to go up 5-4. It was a game after No. 2-seed Mairs couldn’t convert his own break for a 5-3 lead.
Barker won the match 6-4, 6-2, following his runner-up finish last year as a sophomore and a doubles title in 2015.
“I knew that over time if I just kept going, and I just kept playing my best, hopefully he would eventually wear out,” Barker said. “Then luckily I got that break, and then I just kept my focus.”
Those 4-3 and 4-4 games were the swing of the match, Blake coach Ted Warner said.
“Jack is just so level and even-keeled,” Warner said.
Barker’s serve was strong throughout the match. Mairs, a freshman, said afterward that he struggled to find the early rhythm with his return game.
Mairs said he loves competing against a teammate and it makes for a better match.
“You know exactly what they’re going to do pretty much on every shot,” Mairs said.
Barker, meanwhile, said playing a teammate with the “friendly rivalry” is often harder.
“As I say, that match when it ends, it ends,” Warner said. “I said, ‘Your friendship stays forever.’ ”
Blake senior doubles up
Blake senior Ben Ingbar won his second doubles title, teaming with sophomore Christopher Hall for a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Breck freshmen Matthew Metz and Thomas Metz. Ingbar, a doubles champ in 2014, defeated Barker in singles last year. Ranked No. 1 in singles this year, he decided to play doubles at state.
“I just wanted to enjoy the last two days,” Ingbar said. “I thought doubles would be a little bit more fun.”
Blake will compete in tennis against larger schools in Class 2A starting next season.
Blake sophomore Christopher Hall (left) and Blake senior Ben Ingbar, Class 1A doubles winners. Photo: Heather Rule, special to the Star Tribune