Edina junior Matthew Fullerton, the Class 2A singles champion, is the Boys’ Tennis Metro Player of the Year. (David Joles, Star Tribune)
Several factors made Edina junior Matthew Fullerton the Star Tribune’s Boys’ Tennis Metro Player of the Year: unrivaled work ethic, wonderful return of serve, mental toughness.
One factor made the choice easy: the epic Class 2A championship match, a 4-hour, 15-minute marathon that tested skill, endurance and will to win for both participants. Fullerton emerged with a 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 victory over the No. 1 seed, Collin Beduhn of Wayzata.
“They just teed it up and went back and forth, with almost no glitches or meltdowns,” longtime Edina coach Gary Aasen said. “I cannot recall seeing a match like that.”
Having played the 6-foot-7 Beduhn and his 130-mph serve often, Fullerton knew he was in for a battle.
“We’ve played countless sets,” Fullerton said. “I knew his serve was going to be a problem. I just had to stay focused and take advantage of my chances when I got them.”
Fullerton rallied to win the first set in a tiebreaker. Beduhn saved multiple match points in the second to win a tiebreaker.
Fighting off mental and physical fatigue, Fullerton remained steadfast. “I wasn’t thinking about anything except the next point,” he said.
The final tiebreaker was at 2-2 when Fullerton ripped off four straight points, then finished the match two points later.
“Right when it was over, I dropped my racket,” Fullerton said. “I was mentally drained, and I was exhausted.”
“It was amazing tennis,” Aasen said. “I was so involved in the match, I didn’t realize it was four hours.”
Fullerton called it the highlight of his tennis-rich life.
“Definitely at the top, along with the state team title we won at Edina last year,” he said. “I’ll never forget it.”