The Elk River-Zimmerman tennis team achieved a “first” in its highly-accomplished program this week.
“This is the first time ever that Elk River has advanced all six individuals to the section Final Eight,” said coach Randy Ronning after both doubles teams and both singles entrants survived sub-sectionals Wednesday in Sartell. “A great day for the Elks individuals.”
The Elks vaunted singles lineup all opted for doubles in post-season, as did most of the other leading singles players in the section.
The result was Mitchel Brandell and Ryan Ness, juniors who usually play 3-4 singles, taking on eighth-graders Sam and Josh Gearou, who alternate at 1-2 singles, in the sub-section doubles semi finals.
Brandell and Ness won 6-4, 7-5, no small feat considering the Gearou sibs reached the state semifinals last year. Brandell and Ness than beat STMA’s Matt Odegard and Tyler Shustarich 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in the finals. They had beaten Apollo and Buffalo teams in the first two rounds.
The top-seeded Gearou’s bounced back to defeat St. Cloud Tech’s Riley and Tyler Bates 6-3, 6-3 for third place. Earlier they had a bye and beat an Apollo team.
With the singles stalwarts playing doubles, the Elks entered a pair of doubles players, Josh Chuba and Zak Steichen, in singles. Chuba won the sub-section title and Steichen placed fourth. The top four advance.
Chuba beat top-seeded Luke Zweiner of Tech in the finals, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1. He reached the finals with a bye and wins over Steven Dieltz of Big Lake 6-1, 6-0 and Chris Mavetz of Tech 6-1, 6-1.
Steichen beat Caleb Johnson of Apollo in the first round, 6-3, 6-2 and Cullen Bowe of Sauk Rapids 6-3, 7-6, a matchup of two of the hardest servers in the section. Both mustered powerful serves game after game.
Steichen then lost to Zweiner 4-6 6-2, 3-6 and to Tech’s Chris Mavetz 5-7, 6-2, 6-7.
The Section 8AA singles and doubles will resume Tuesday afternoon at Sartell, after the section team tournament earlier in the day.