Tennis: Elks’ Ness, Brandell gain state, two other hopefuls denied

The top-ranked, unbeaten, state-bound Elk River tennis team had its first disappointing day of the season on Wednesday when state singles and doubles berths were being determined.

The Elks hoped to advance two doubles teams and  one singles player, but only Ryan Ness and Mitchel Brandell  got through, with a runner-up finish in Section 7AA at St. Francis.

Ness and Brandell  beat their teammates Josh and Sam Gearou 6-0, 6-4 in the semifinals, then won their first set against Forest Lake’s Zack Decker and Toby Boyer in the championship match. The Elks lost the second set, and led 4-2 in the third before the Ranger duo rallied to beat them 6-4.

The Gearou’s, who beat an Andover team 6-3, 6-3 for third place,  would have had a true-second match had Ness and Brandell won. The twins were consolation champs at state last year but won’t return in doubles.

Meanwhile, Elk junior Josh Chuba lost in the semifinals to three-time state champion Dusty Boyer as expected. He had victory in his hands in the third-place match, leading 6-0, 5-2, but couldn’t finish the job and lost a three-setter. He would have had a true-second match had he won.

The Elks, 28-0, have been superb at coming through in the clutch all season, but finally faltered on this day. So they’ll head into state as the top-ranked team but will have only one individuals entrant.

State pairings set

The state tournament pairings have been announced by the MSHSL. They are Eden Prairie vs. Wayzata at 8 a.m., Rochester Mayo vs. Eagan at 10 a.m., Maple Grove vs. Elk River at noon, and Mahtomedi vs. St. Cloud Tech at 2 p.m. The semifinal winners clash at 8 and 10 a.m. Wednesday with finals at  4 p.m.