by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River tennis opened what they hope will be the program’s first state championship season with a quick 7-0 victory over the Coon Rapids Cardinals on a chilly, breezy Tuesday at home.
It wasn’t quite cold enough to snow but the Elks did rack up five “snowman” wins — by the 6-0, 6-0 score — among seven.
“The prospects look very promising … again this year, at all levels,” noted coach Randy Ronning in the program he produces for each match. “Our varsity may be our best team ever.”
The Elks are ranked No. 2 in the metro area by the Star-Tribune behind defending champion Eden Prairie. The Elks placed fourth and Eagles sixth in the state tourney last year and each returns almost everyone.
“That was a nice compliment, and pretty much what we expected,” said Ronning, adding that defending champion Rochester Mayo also remains a leading contender along with several metro area powers.
The Elks, who posed their 51st straight conference win, are seeking their sixth straight NWSC title and seventh state section title.
“After two good weeks of practice and a good scrimmage against Forest Lake, we were ready to start playing matches,” said the coach. “it was disappointing that the weather turned cold but it’s good to be out playing.”
The lineup will be headed once again by freshmen Sam and Josh Gearou, who’ve alternated at 1 and 2 since seventh grade along with occasional matches at No. 1 doubles. Ryan Ness and Matt Odegard, a senior transfer who sat out last year’s season, played 3 and 4 singles Tuesday. Mitchel Brandell and Josh Chuba, at No. 1 doubles in this match, are also in the mix for singles play. Dylan Berger and Jesse Bragg played No. 2 and Nathan Chanthmontry and Steve Delain No. 3.
Brandell picked up his 120th win and Ness his 89th. Josh Gearou won his 64th match, Sam Gearou and Chuba their 62nd, and Berger his 58th.
The Elks will play at Maple Grove, whom Ronning expects to be their biggest conference challenge this year, on Thursday.
Elk River 7, Coon Rapids 0
(1) Sam Gearou, ER, def Matt Tellacker 6-1, 6-1
(2) Josh Gearou, ER, def Kendall Setts 6-0, 6-0
(3) Ryan Ness, ER, def Bobby Yang 6-0, 6-0
(4) Matt Odegard, ER, def Dan Jaeck 6-0, 6-0
(1) Mitchel Brandell-Josh Chuba, ER, def Matt Moorhehouse-Nat Porter 6-0, 6-0
(2) Dylan Berger-Jesse Bragg, ER, def Lee Miller-Luke Christensen 6-0, 6-0
(3) Steve Delain-Nathan Chanthamontry, ER, def James Pattin-Steven Muggenberg 6-2, 6-1