by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk freshmen-to-be Sam and Josh Gearou each reached finals of Elk River’s USTA tournament over the weekend, with Josh beating an Elk teammate for the 18’s title and Sam losing to a Hopkins player in the 16’s finals.
Josh tripped Mitchel Brandell 6-2, 6-2 for first place among 13 contestants in the 18’s field. Josh went 4-0 and beat another Elk teammate, Ryan Ness, 6-1, 6-1 in the semifinals. Brandell had a bye and wins over Nathan Cherry of Rapid City, SD, 7-5, 6-4, and Danny Axelrod of Henry Sibley 7-5, 6-1.
Sam was stopped in the 16’s finals by Manfred Barrios, sophomore-to-be at Hopkins, 6-1, 6-4. Barrios played No. 3 singles last spring for the top-ranked Royals who lost in their section finals to Wayzata, the eventual state runner-up and said he expects to be No. 1 this year. He also won a USTA meet at Read-Sweatt in Minneapolis last week.
“He had a big game, a big serve,” said Sam, who reached finals of the seven-team field with wins over Albertville and Moorhead players.
About the Gearou sibs, Elk senior-to-be Brandell assessed: “The Gearou’s are very good little players — very quick, they get everything back, and have nice hands. They don’t hit real hard yet, but they will when they get bigger and stronger.”
Brandell said he’s had a pretty good summer, making finals in three of seven tournaments and semi’s in two others.
The Gearous, who play 1-2 singles for the Elks’ state tournament teams the last two years, said they’ve mainly been practicing at Moore Lake club this summer, with a few tournaments. Josh won a level 5 tournament at the U of M Baseline Courts last week.
Ness claimed third place in 18’s, beating Axelrod 6-0, 6-1.
Elk River’s 11-year-old Meagan Brown placed third in the girls 16’s division, which had six players.
Brown, just under 70 pounds, lost to 14-year-old Zoe Lindbloom of Wayzata in the semi’s, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, and Lindbloom was the champion as her finals opponent, Jessica Solberg, had to withdraw. Brown won two matches including 6-1, 6-2 over Paige McLeod for third place
Meagan’s mom, Laura, has hosted the tournament for the last three years, and had 47 players for this one, all in singles competition.
Meagan recently competed with her five-state USTA team in zonal competition in Omaha, and won nine of 11 matches at No. 4 singles and doubles, said Laura.
Alyssa Karavitch of Elk River was 3-0 to win the girls 12-and-under.
Cortne Solberg of Bemidji won 18’s girls, which had only four players. Sam Hochberger of Maple Grove won 14’s boys and Austin Anderson of White Bear Lake won 12’s boys.