by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Sam and Josh Gearou, the 16-year-old twins who’ve led Elk River in four straight trips to the state tournament, made their first appearance at the Elk River Open on Sunday.
The twins captured the doubles crown, the only event they entered, with a hard-fought finals win over Dyno Waiseman, 38, of Coon Rapids, and John Kuntz, 28, of Champlin.
“Sam and Josh usually have a USTA tournament the same weekend,” said Randy Ronning, the ERO director and the kids’ high school coach. “This year their summer team has qualified for nationals so they did not have the USTA tournament. They had company Friday and Saturday but they said they could play doubles on Sunday.”
The Gearou’s have alternated at one and two singles for the Elks since seventh grade, including the 2012 state championship team, and placed fourth in Class AA doubles this spring, capping their sophomore year.
Ronning anticipated a “heckuva good match” in the finals between the talented twins and a pair of very strong adult players. And it certainly was.
Waiseman and Kuntz took the first set 7-5. Action was highlighted by some devastating overhead smashes by the wins, and several well-placed shots into the corners by the older guys.
Points continued to be hard-fought as the Gearou’s turned the tide, taking the second set 6-4 and the third 6-3.
“They wore us down. The young guys wore down the old guys,” said Waiseman. “We were very happy with the result. They are very good players and it was a fun match.”
To reach the finals, the Gearou’s beat St. Cloud Tech coach Paul Bates and his son Tyler 6-3, 6-3, then clipped Rogers coach Nick Scheevel and his brother Sam 6-2, 6-1.
“They don’t make many mistakes,” said Nick Scheevel. “You’ve got to hit winners against them. They’ll get to anything soft or in the middle or up in the air. We had fun. There were a lot of close points.”
Waisenman and Kuntz beat Elk River’s Mitchel Brandell and Tyler Creelman 6-2, 6-1 in the quarterfinals, and Mark and Leyton Bohren 6-2, 6-0 in the semifinals.