VIRGINIA — Playing their second match in as many days, the Rock Ridge boys’ tennis team earned their first win of the season, downing visiting Thief River Falls, 4-3.
Again dominant on the double side of things, the Wolverines swept all three spots and picked up one win in singles to take the match.
At No. 1 doubles, Ryan Scherf and Jace Westerbur cruised for Rock Ridge, defeating the Prowlers’ Rhett Janisch and Ethan Lunsetter, 6-1, 6-1.
The doubles success got started earlier in the day with Chace Powell and Keegan Ruedebusch dropping just two games in their rout of Thief River Falls’ Jett Cornelius and Connor Roth at the No. 3 spot, 6-2, 6-0. Not to be outdone, Rock Ridge’s Logan Bialke and Sam Berlin dropped only a single game at No. 2, winning 6-1, 6-0 over JJ Cornelius and Isaiah Villarreal.
On the singles side, the Wolverines looked much improved compared to the opener with Duluth East. Despite only taking one of the four points, the matches they lost were contested much more closely, showing progress in the early season.
At the No. 1 spot, sophomore Jared Delich earned a win for Rock Ridge, cruising to victory over Dylan Hahn without dropping a game, 6-0, 6-0.
At No. 2, the Wolverines’ Jack Elliot dropped the first set 6-0 to Thief River Falls’ Camden Broadwell, but made a game of things in the second set before ultimately falling 6-4.
At No. 3 singles, the consistent and meticulous Gavin Benz went to three sets with the Prowlers’ Jack Onkka. Returning as many balls as he could and forcing Onkka to make big plays to win the points, Benz came from behind in the first set to win 7-6. In the second set, Onkka came out on top 6-4 to force the 10-point tiebreaker.
In the end, Onkka’s power proved to be too much for Benz as he took the tiebreaker 10-4.
Finally at No. 4 singles, Jake Bradach found himself in another long, hotly contested battle taking on TRF’s Reese Janisch. Bradach dropped a close first set 6-4 before battling back to take the second, 6-3. In the tiebreaker, Janisch got the best of Bradach, winning the match 10-6.
Delich’s win at the top spot broke the 3-3 tie in the match and gave Rock Ridge the win, capping off an exciting first week of contests.
Rock Ridge head coach Jeff Mauston said that he was very pleased overall with his team through two matches.
“I think we had a chance to see a lot of improvement today,” Mauston said. “And that’s what we ended up getting. Yesterday we had some jitters and those were worked out today and I think we made some big strides. Again our doubles looked very strong. They’re solid and there’s no concerns there with all the experience they have.”
On the singles side, Mauston noted the improvement compared to the day prior while battling at every single spot.
“I thought the singles kids all played better. I was very impressed again with Jake [Bradach] at 4. He’s a battler. If he gets a couple more shots in his arsenal I think he’ll be good. Jack Elliot looked good in his match once he started to come back as well.
“Benz played a brilliant match at 3. He was overgunned by that kid but he really out-thought him at times. And Jared Delich just played fantastic. He’s such a smart player and there’s not a lot of kids around here that are going to out-think him.”
Two matches and two weeks of practice under their belt, Mauston was optimistic about Rock Ridge’s chances in Section 7A.
“I think we’ve got to be one of the favorites. I think we’re solid at every position and we have guys below that can battle. No one on our team can get complacent because there are guys fighting to take their spot and that is what’s going to make us better.If we continue to improve, we’ll be one of the teams battling for the section.”
Rock Ridge will be back in action on Tuesday when they play host to Duluth Denfeld.
Rock Ridge 4, Thief River Falls 3
Singles: No. 1 Jared Delich, RR, def. Dylan Hahn, TRF, 6-0, 6-0; No. 2 Camden Broadwell, TRF, def. Jack Elliot, RR, 6-0, 6-4; No. 3 Jack Onkka, TRF, def. Gavin Benz, RR, 6-7, 6-4, [10-4], No. 4 Reese Janisch, TRF, def. Jake Bradach, TRF, 6-4, 3-6, [10-6].
Doubles: No. 1 Ryan Scherf/Jace Westerbur, RR, def. Rhett Janisch/Ethan Lunsetter, TRF, 6-1, 6-1; No. 2 Logan Bialke/Sam Berlin, RR, def. JJ Cornelius/Isaiah Villarreal, TRF, 6-1, 6-0; No. 3 Chace Powell/Keegan Ruedebusch, RR, def. Jett Cornelius/Connor Roth, TRF, 6-2, 6-0.