Mounds Park Academy players celebrated with their Class 1A team championship. Photo: Joe Gunther, Star Tribune
Rarely do No. 4 singles get put in the spotlight. However, the Class 1A state tournament championship came down to the final pairing.
Mounds Park Academy’s Vlad Vutov outlasted St. Paul Academy’s Brennan Keogh 6-7 (7-5), 7-5, 6-4 to give the Panthers a 4-3 victory.
“That was one of the greatest finishes for the state tournament,” Panthers coach Bryan Biever said. “It comes down to two guys battling a 3-hour and 40-minute match. The crowd was great. The atmosphere here was amazing. You don’t like to see one side win or lose, necessarily in that situation.”
Vutov never trailed in the final set but did not lead by more than one set until the end.
“It was about working hard and hustling,” Vutov said. “I didn’t feel any pressure. I was just playing my game.
“I knew [it was tied 3-3]. I just had to push and work. The score didn’t matter to me. It was just about winning.”
The Panthers had to rally in other sets to get victories in those matches. The No. 1 doubles team of Jerusalem Thao and Dillon Vue trailed in the third set before rallying to beat Jeffrey Huang and Luka Shaker-Check 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (7-5). No. 2 singles player Justin Prochnow edged out Max Soll 7-5, 6-7, 7-4 for the point.
The only match the Panthers didn’t have to grind out the victory in was No. 1 singles. Parker Law, the No. 1 seed in the singles tournament, defeated Nathan Sobotka 6-2, 6-0.
The Spartans took an early 2-1 lead with victories from No. 3 singles player Kai Sih and No. 2 doubles team of Sameer Bijwadia and Liam Lynch. The No. 3 doubles team of Riley Tietel and Maik Nguyen held off a late rally in the third set by Alex Vue and Karan Jain to earn that point.