by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River will make its ninth trip to the state tennis tournament this week and for the first time, the Elks are seen as the team to beat.
After sweeping past Duluth East 7-0 and Forest Lake 6-1 for the Section 7AA championship last Monday in St. Francis, the Elks take a 28-0 record and No. 1 ranking into the U of M’s Baseline Center for Class AA team showdowns Tuesday and Wednesday.
Those 28 wins include 20 by shutout and none closer than 5-2. The Elks have beaten five teams in the state field, including first-round foe Maple Grove.
One they haven’t faced is defending champion, No. 2 ranked Rochester Mayo. Barring upsets, they would meet in the finals Wednesday. In eight previous state trips, the Elks have never reached the finals.
Freshman twins Josh and Sam Gearou head the lineup at one and two singles. Senior veterans Ryan Ness, Matt Odegard, Mitchel Brandell, Dylan Berger and Jesse Bragg occupy three-four singles and one-two doubles. At three dubs, soph Nathan Chanthamontry and either soph Logann Bruns or senior Steve Delain have a 23-4 record. Berger-Bragg are unbeaten. Ness has only one loss, Brandell two.
State Class AA tennis Tourney
At U of M Baseline Center
•Eden Prairie vs. Wayzata, 8 a.m.
•Rochester Mayo vs. Eagan, 10 a.m.
•Elk River vs Maple Grove, noon
•Mahtomedi vs. St. Cloud Tech, 2 p.m.
•Consolation 4 & 6 p.m.
Semifinals 8 & 10 a.m.
Third-place, 2 p.m.
Championship, 4 p.m.