by Eric Oslund
The Elk River boys team had a big win over Centennial on May 4. That win sent them into the conference championship crossover match against Maple Grove on Wednesday, May 10.
Tyler Creelman took he regular spot as the team’s No. 1 singles player and was followed by Ryan Hermanson as the No. 2 singles player, Tommy Chuba at No. 3 singles, and Stewart Morrell as the No. 4 singles player.
For doubles, it was the pairing of Joe O’Connell and Joey Eberle on the No. 1 court, Connor Bizal and Taiyo Larson as the No. 2 doubles, and Matthew Gearou with Isaac Hultberg as the No. 3 pairing.
The Elks appeared to be clicking on all cylinders early on as Creelman won both his sets by scores of 6-2 and 6-3, Hermanson would follow suit and come out on top 6-1 and 6-3.
“The biggest stunner was Ryan Hermanson beating his No. 2 singles opponent,” head coach Randy Ronning said. “A month earlier he lost to that same player, on that same court, 6-2, 6-0. Ryan knew he lost many good chances in that first meeting and was focused on winning more of those key points this time. He jumped out to a quick 3-0 and 4-1 lead, but Miller came back to 4-3, where they played a 20-minute game, with many opportunities for both. But Ryan finally won the game and captured the momentum to go on and win eight of the last nine games.”
Chuba made quick work in his first set winning 6-2, but things would be much closer in his second set. It was a close match, but he was able to come out on top 7-6 (7-4). Then there was Morrell, he may have been playing as the No. 4 singles players, but he had the most dominating match of any Elk River player – winning both his sets 6-0.
Those four wins were enough to secure the conference championship, but with all seven matches going on at the same time it was all still unclear. The pairing of Bizal and Larson would win their match in straight sets by scores of 6-2, and the pairing of Gearou and Hultberg would win their match 7-6 (7-5) and 6-2.
The only match the Elks would lose was No. 1 doubles, securing a 6-1 win and their team’s 10th conference championship in the last 12 years. Ronning knew his team had a good shot at winning, but didn’t think they would win in such dominating fashion, saying the 6-1 decision was “unexpected.”
After the game, six Elks – Creelman, Hermanson, Morrell, O’Connell, Chuba, and Larson – were named all-conference at the conference meeting, and two more Elks – Bizal and Chuba – were named as honorable mentions.