by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Coming off her first year of college tennis, Leah Koehler of Elk River repeated as champion of the Elk River Open in women’s open singles on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Chris Scheevel, former St. Cloud Cathedral and Bethel player, won his third straight men’s open title and fourth overall.
Koehler, 19, former Elk captain, beat Lisa Scheevel, Chris’s sister, in the finals for the second straight year, this time 6-3, 6-0. Koehler reached the finals beating Haley Conzet, Chris Burns and Camille Kralic.
“I think I was more nervous last year,” said Koehler. “I had lost to Lisa (in the ERO) a couple years earlier. I’m more confident now.”
Koehler was named freshman of the year in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference after helping Winona State place second in the conference. She played No. 5 singles and No. 3 doubles, and was 9-0 in singles in the conference.
“It’s harder mentally to prepare,” she said about college tennis, where you play both singles and doubles. “You win that first match (doubles) and you still have singles which is longer and takes more energy. But it was fun. There’s more travel. We went to Arizona once.”
She also enjoyed running into former teammates in the college circuit as Katie Jesperson plays for Augustana, Cassandra Brown for St. Cloud and Grace Zachman for St. Mary’s.
Koehler reached the finals beating Haley Conzet, Chris Burns and Camille Kraljic. On Friday, she and her dad, Mike, took third in mixed doubles, losing to Lisa and her brother Sam, the eventual champions.
Chris Scheevel, 27, former St. Cloud Cathedral and Bethel player, fought off Elk River’s Kent Nichols, another Bethel grad, 6-4, 6-4 in the finals, adding to the ERO crowns he won in 2008, 2010, and 2011. Scheevel, a structural engineer living in New Brighton, earlier beat Erik Jones, Tyler Schustarich, and Joel Cassens.
Nichols, former Elk No. 1 player, just finished four years at Bethel, where he was a teammate of Scheevel’s his first two years.
“This is a lot more tennis than I am used to,” grinned Nichols, who won three matches to reach the finals, where he gave Scheevel a good battle. “I was up 3-0 in the first set, and then he started whaling on some balls, and hitting some real good forehands.”
Nichols won his biggest game of the year in January when he was accepted to medical school, at Minnesota-Duluth.
“That was a great day,” he said. “You’re talking about four years of stress of my shoulders.”
Cassens and Kraljic placed third in their respective 16-player divisions.
Tournament chairman Randy Ronning, 59, won “A” singles. The state coach of the year whose Elks won “state” this spring, Ronning beat Ellis Scheevel, 60, in the finals, after each got past a teenager in the semi’s.
Nathan Chanthamontry, Elk junior-to-be, placed third.
Ellis Scheevel, longtime St. Cloud Cathedral coach, had three sons and a daughter-in-law in the ERO. In mixed doubles Friday, his offspring Lisa and Sam won the open title, while Nick and his wife Rachel won the “A” class.
Nick Tran, a sophomore who’ll probably crack the Elk lineup next spring, was the “B” singles winner, topping Rob Small 6-3, 6-4 in the finals.
Men’s Open Singles (16 entrants)
Championship – Chris Scheevel def. Kent Nichols 6-6, 6-4
Semifinals —Scheevel def Joel Cassens 7-5, 5-7, 10-1; Nichols def Mike Hayes 4-6, 6-3, 10-5
Third place — Cassens def. Hayes 6-1, 6-2
Consolation final – Mitchel Brandell def. Erik Jones 10-6
Women’s Open Singles (16 entrants)
Championship — Leah Koehler def Lisa Scheevel 6-3, 6-0
Semifinals — Koehler def. Camille Kraljic 6-1, 6-1; Scheevel def. Stephanie Brown 6-2, 6-2
Third place — Kraljic def Brown 6-3, 6-4
Consolation final — Bri Door def Lauren Brayden 10-8
Men’s A Singles (16 entrants)
Championship — Randy Ronning def Ellis Scheevel, 6-3, 6-2
Semifinals — Ronning def Joey Evavold 6-3, 6-2; Scheevel def Nathan Chanthamontry 6-2, 6-3
Third place — Chanthamontry def Evavold 10-9
Consolation final — Joe Wetherille def Noah Steichen 10-2
Men’s B Singles (16 entrants)
Championship — Nick Tran def. Rob Small 6-3, 6-4
Semifinal — Tran def Jordan Haack 6-0, 6-2; Small def Brian Danielson, score not available
Third place — Haack def. Danielson 6-2, 0-6, 10-4
Consolation final — Kyle Syverson def Tyler Creelman 10-7