Tennis: New addition Odegard helps Elks beat Hibbing, SLP, Hopkins

Elk senior Matt Odegard returned a serve during his 6-2, 6-2 win over Chase Johnson of Hopkins at No. 4 singles. (Photo by Bruce Strand_


by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

An Elk River tennis lineup that was already loaded added another talented  veteran this year when Matt Odegard transferred from St. Michael-Albertville.

The lanky 6-foot-2 senior won twice in doubles and once in singles Saturday as the Elks defeated Hibbing 7-0, Spring Lake Park 7-0, and Hopkins 6-1.

“We knew he would be a great addition,” said coach Randy Ronning, adding that Odegard gives them a total of six players who’ve qualified for state in singes or doubles. “If we’d have had him last year we might have won state.”

Logan Burns and Nathan Chanthamontry won at No. 3 doubles against Hopkins. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

The last two years, Odegaard had the option of STMA or Elk River after his parents split up and now live in separate districts. He was still a Knight last spring, but joined the Elks for his final campaign. That was fine with the Elks, especially with a team ready to challenge for  a state crown this year.

“His dad called me,” said Ronning, “to ask if I’d give him a fair shake if he came here. I said, ‘Are you kidding?”

Matt is well-known to the Elks.

“We’ve actually had him since about fifth grade at Daytona courts,” Ronning noted, “so, much of what he knows about tennis came from us anyway. It’s not like he’s a new kid with us –he’s just playing for us now.”

Ronning said Odegard has a great work ethic and attitude, the kids all like him, and “he seems to enjoy being here.”

Odegard confirmed that: “It’s a great group, everybody’s fun to hit with, we all get along, and we have great coaching.”

Odegard went to state two years ago in doubles with a win over Ryan Ness and Bob Johnson of the Elks for true-second at sectionals. Last year he had only three losses at one-doubles and was stopped by St. Cloud Tech in the section finals.

Odegard lost a three-setter at 4-singles against Maple Grove in a 5-2 Elk win on Thursday. Ronning said he was the better player and let that one slip away.

“But he won twice in doubles today and had a nice singles win against Hopkins (at No. 4) so that should  be good for getting his confidence back up.”

The Elks improved to 5-0 with the three non-conference wins Saturday. The keynote match was Elks vs Hopkins, an always-strong program whose team last year was ranked No. 1 in the state for a while.

“We knew Hopkins would be a big test, and we were up for it,” said Ronning. “We have been playing real well.”

Josh Gearou chased a shot into the corner during his No. 1 singles match against Hopkins' Manfred Barnos. Gearou lost in three sets. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Hopkins sophomore Manfred Barnos outlasted Elk freshman Josh Gearou in a three-setter. The Elks won them the rest in straight sets.

In the one-doubles match, Mitchel Brandell and Josh Chuba beat Jake Ponto and Long Nguyen 6-1, 6-0. The Elks were down 40-15 in one game when Brandell fired off three straight ace serves to win it.

The Hopkins doubles lineup included Andy and Kenny Novak III, sons of Kenny Novak II, whose six state championships coaching Hopkins basketball is the most of any coach in state history in boys hoops. Novak II also coached tennis for a time and Ronning remembers coaching against him with St. Francis when Novak was at Blaine.

The Elks will host Park Center on Saturday.




Elk River 5, Maple Grove 2


(1) Zach Adkins, MG, def Sam Gearou 6-1, 6-2

(2) Josh Gearou, ER, def Trevo Kleineshey 6-1, 6-0

(3) Ryan Ness, ER,  def Charlie Adkins 7-5, 6-2

(4) Rory Calabana, MG, def Matt Odegard 6-7, 6-3, 7-4


(1) Mitchel Brandell-Josh Chuba, ER, def Andrew Nagel-Derrick Marvin 6-4, 6-3

(2) Dylan Berger-Jesse Bragg, ER, def Sam Endris-Dylan Steman 6-4, 6-4

(3) Steve Delain-Nathan Chanthamontry, ER, def Jake Endris-Sam Hochberger 6-4, 6-1



Elk River 7, Hibbing 0


(1) Josh Gearou, ER, def Mike Fontana 6-0, 6-1

(2) Ryan Ness, ER, def Cole Schafer 6-0, 6-0

(3) Mitchel Brandell, ER, def Jeff Peronovich 6-2, 6-2

(4) Nathan Chanthamontry, ER, def Aden Casey 6-3, 6-4


(1) Matt Odegard-Sam Gearou, ER, def Joe Anderson-Adam Johnson 6-1, 6-0

(2) Dylan Berger-Jesse Bragg, ER, def Jon Specht-Dillon Peshavnik 6-0, 6-0

(3) Steve Delain-Logan Burns, ER def Taylor Persson-Scotty Pernovich 6-2, 7-6


Elk River 7, Spring Lake Park 0


(1) Josh Gearou, ER, def Hrep Dam 6-0, 6-0

(2) Ryan Ness, ER, def Chris Caistrant 6-0, 6-0

(3) Matt Odgard, ER, def Aaron Ayub 6-0, 6-0

(4) Joe Wetherille, ER, def Humza Ayub 6-1, 6-1


(1) Mitchel Brandell-Sam Gearou, ER, def Jake Ponto-Long Nguyen 6-1, 6-0

(2) Dylan Berger-Jesse Bragg, ER, def Corey Buresh-Karl Haynus 6-1, 6-0

(3) Nathan Chanthamontry-Steve Delain, ER, def Harley Amanshec-Jay Lohse 6-0, 6-0


Elk River 6, Hopkins 1


(1) Manfred Barnos, Hop, def Josh Gearou 4-6, 6-4, 6-1

(2) Sam Gearou, ER,  def  Nil Placky 6-0, 6-0

(3) Ryan Ness, ER, def Clay Thompson 6-0, 6-1

(4) Matt Odegard, ER, def Chase Johnson 6-2, 6-2


(1) Mitchel Brandell-Josh Chuba, ER, def Andrew Rust-Andy Novak 6-1, 6-2

(2) Dylan Berger-Jesse Bragg, ER, def Jackson Dietrich-Kenny Novak 7-5, 6-0

(3) Nathan Chanthamontry-Logan Burns, ER, def Mark Grayson-Harry Orenstson 6-2, 7-6