Athlete of the week: Josh Chuba, Elk River, tennis: Forehand fury

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Josh Chuba is a powerful and nimble presence in both soccer and tennis for ERHS, warranting serious college attention in both. Randy Ronning is just glad that tennis is one of the sports the 6-foot-3, 190-pound athlete embraced. Chuba has won more than 100 matches and was an almost automatic point on last year’s state championship team.

“Josh is amazing. I call him ‘Mr. Everything.’ That means there isn’t anything he isn’t good at,” said the Elk coach.

Josh Chuba has racked up 103 wins, 31 of them last year to to help the Elks capture the state championship. (Photo by Bruce Strand)
Josh Chuba has racked up 103 wins, 31 of them last year to to help the Elks capture the state championship. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Chuba wins mainly with a powerful serve and forehand. Most matches he’s good for five or six aces against only a couple double faults.

“He is an excellent singles and doubles player, with all the shots,” Ronning said. “He likes to attack at every opportunity. He wails on first serves. He rarely misses a second serve, and has good movement on the ball. And something often missed is how good he is at returning serve.”

The lone senior in the lineup, Chuba is co-captain with juniors Nathan Chanthamontry and Logann Burns.

Chuba’s contribution to the Elks 31-0 run last year was a 31-3 record at 4-singles and 1-doubles. His 3-set win over Wayzata’s Henry Lee in the state finals was the clincher in a 5-2 victory. He’s 4-3 career in state tourney matches.

Chuba  got his 100th win last Saturday against Burnsville. Actually that was a bittersweet moment as the team’s win streak ended at 37 with a 4-3 loss. “It was pretty cool to get 100, but there were mixed emotions,” he said.

Chuba is currently 103-18 for his career and 10-0 this season. He was 25-7 in ninth grade and 28-8 in 10th. Ronning had him at No. 4 singles and No. 1 doubles in grades 9-11. This year he’s No. 3  behind the outstanding sophomores Sam and Josh Gearou.

While never at the top of the Elk lineup, Chuba did make state in singles as section runner-up in 10th grade when the Gearou’s went doubles, and again last year as section doubles champion with Ryan Ness; they beat the twins to get there.

His goals for this year are “go state again and win it again … and go to state in individuals, too.” He will probably be paired with Sam Gearou for doubles with Josh going singles.

In soccer, Chuba was a two-year starter at center defender, earning all-NWSC and Elk Mr. Defense awards as a senior on an 8-8-2  team, and honorable mention as a junior on a 9-9 team. His job was “to be the eyes of the defense, and do a lot of communicating” in monitoring the flow of the action and directing teammates.

The Elks allowed just 19 goals in 18 games, and Chuba was a big contributor to that.

“Josh would win all the air balls for us with his size but was also mobile enough to run down the small, quicker players,” coach Tom Olson said. “If we started to get rattled, he would be the one to calm us down. … He was the captain the other players went to with questions.” Olson added, “If he was not going to play tennis, he would have been a great prospect for college soccer.”

Chuba has all but committed to UW-Eau Claire, whose coach, Ronning said, told him Chuba was a good bet to start as a freshman in a solid program. “In the meantime, we are just trying to enjoy his time on our team, while it lasts.”


Josh Chuba
Josh Chuba

Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: parents Phil and Sherry; brothers Devin and Tommy, sister Lindee … Sports: soccer, tennis … Other activities: Fellowship of Christian Athletes … Academics: A’s and B’s … College plans: Wisconsin-Eau Claire, tennis, probably engineering

Favorite stuff — Class: math … TV show: “The Office” … Food: Chipotle fare, especially chicken burritos … Drink: chocolate milk … Team: Arizona Cardinals … Athlete: Larry Fitzgerald … Kickback: snowboarding