ST. CLOUD — The Rock Ridge boys’ tennis team expected a close match in their Class A quarterfinal contest with Rochester Lourdes and that’s exactly what they got.
In the end, the Wolverines managed to sweep the doubles but the Eagles took home all four singles matches to get the hard fought win, 4-3.
“It was just a heartbreaker,” said Rock Ridge head coach Jeff Mauston. “All of our kids played well and the match broke down how we thought it would break down. We hoped we would have a shot at winning the third or fourth singles match and that’s what it came down to in the end.
Every match besides No. 3 singles was finished up in straight sets. At the No. 3 spot, Rock Ridge’s Gavin Benz battled it out with Lourdes’ Ethan Leeser in a three-set thriller.
Benz took the first set 6-2 but Leeser knotted things up at one set apiece, 6-3. In the final set, Benz ran out of gas and Leeser took the decisive set, 6-0.
“It came down to Benz and he’s really just a tough kid. After that first set we thought we had a chance but the kid from Lourdes really stepped up his game. Benz ran out of gas and it was just a heartbreaker for all of us. But all of our kids played their best tennis they’ve played all year. It was a wonderful match to watch.”
In the doubles, seniors Ryan Scherf and Jace Westerbur were on and off the court in short order, defeating Lourdes’ Easton Blissenbach and Ethan Hubbard convincingly at the No. 1 spot, 6-0, 6-1. At No. 2 doubles, seniors Logan Bialke and Sam Berlin took a hard-fought first set 6-4 over the Eagles’ William Rooke and Jonathan Boughey. In the second set, they picked up their game to seal the win, 6-2.
Finally at No. 3 singles, senior Chase Powell teamed up with junior Keegan Ruedebusch and the pair took two tough sets, defeating Charlie Young and Ethan Thompson, 6-4, 6-3.
On the singles side, Jared Delich fell at the top spot to Lourdes’ Marjan Veldic, 6-2, 6-2. At No. 2 Jack Elliot was taken down by Jonathan Onigkeit, 6-1, 6-4. Finally at the No. 4 spot, Jake Bradach fell to the Eagles’ Frederick Suhler, 6-2, 6-4.
Of his team’s six seniors, Mauston said the loss was especially difficult for them as they saw their high school tennis careers come to an end.
“It’s always tough when you have this many seniors. It’s their last match and emotions were high. They took this team so far and they have everything to be proud of after the season they had.”
Win or lose, Mauston had high praise for his squad for playing close with one of the state’s top teams and battling through scorching conditions.
“It was such tough conditions for everyone. It’s 94 degrees down here and it’s the state tournament. Every match is tough. It would have been fun to beat Lourdes and make it one step further but the guys gave it everything they had. I’m real proud of them as a coach.”
The team tournament finished for the Wolverines, attention now turns to the individual tournament. Jared Delich in singles along with Jace Westerbur and Ryan Sherf in doubles, all three will begin individual play on Thursday at 8 a.m. in St. Cloud.
Rochester Lourdes 4, Rock Ridge 3
Singles: No. 1 Marjan Veldic, RL, def. Jared Delich, 6-2, 6-2; No. 2 Jonathan Onigkeit, RL, def. Jack Elliot, 6-1, 6-4; No. 3 Ethan Leeser, RL, def. Gavin Benz, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0; No. 4 Frederick Suhler, RL, def. Jake Bradach, 6-2, 6-4.
Doubles: No. 1 Ryan Scherf/Jace Westerbur, RR, def. Easton Blissenbach/Ethan Hubbard, 6-0 6-1; No. 2 Logan Bialke/Sam Berlin, RR, def. William Rooke/Jonathan Boughey, 6-4, 6-2; No. 3 Chase Powell/Keegan Ruedebusch, RR, def. Charlie Young/Ethan Thompson, 6-4, 6-3.