by Eric Oslund
Elk River High School played host to a pair of Northwest Suburban Conference tennis tournaments just a week apart from one another, and the Elks were well-represented in both.
It all started off with doubles play in the girls tournament, where the championship match featured two team’s with Elk River players. Dee Dokken and Riley Mathis teamed up to take on Paige Anderson and Champlin Park’s Allison Kelly after both pairings advanced to the finals with relative ease.
And when it was all said and done, it would be the duo of Anderson and Kelly holding that first-place trophy.
The the girls returned the following day to compete in the singles competition. After teaming up the day before, Mathis and Dokken suddenly found themselves going up against one another for third place, with Dokken coming out on top 10-4.
The Elks were also represented in the championship match as well after Anderson was able to make her way through the field with relative ease, winning her matches 10-3, 10-5 and 10-1. Even after the field was slimmed down to just two, she still seemed to be on top of her game, winning 10-4.
“Paige has a terrific forehand and serve, but in this tourney her backhand and volleys also shined brightly,” Elk River head coach Randy Ronning said. “It was as if she could hit any shot she wanted to. She was definitely in a zone.”
Anderson’s younger sister Emma also had a good tournament, winning the consolation bracket in doubles after pairing up with Kaitlin Tran, and then taking it in singles as well.
The boys would get their shot in the NWSC tournament a week later, but the results were very similar.
The boys doubles were played on Monday, June 26, and much like in the girls doubles, the championship match featured two teams from Elk River. Ryan Hermanson and Joey Eberle teamed up to take on Tommy Chuba and Stewart Morrell, and it was the pairing of Chuba and Morrell hoisting the first-place trophies after a hard-fought finals match that would go three sets.
A pair of Elk River boys – Connor Bizal and Issac Hultberg – also took third place in the tournament, defeating their opponents 10-3 after falling to the eventual champions in the semifinals.
The boys returned to Elk River High School the following day to compete in the singles play, and this time they were joined by a pair of Rogers players – Christian Larson and R.J. Griffiths.
Independent School District 728 was well represented in this tournament, as seven of the eight players in the quarterfinals attended either Elk River, Rogers, or Zimmerman High School. What may have even been more impressive was that all four of the players in the semifinals – Griffiths, Morrell, Hermanson, and Chuba – attend one of those schools as well.
In the finals it was Griffiths squaring off against Chuba after both of them barely edged out their opponents in the semifinals. And when it was all said and done it was Griffiths, the soon to be sophomore and No. 1 singles player for the Royals a year ago, taking first.
But despite the 10-4 loss in the final round, Chuba had what was arguably one of his best two days of tennis ever.
“Of the many locals playing and enjoying success, Tommy Chuba of Elk River had the biggest tourney,” said Ronning, who also coaches the Elk River boys. “It was a breakout event for the No. 3 singles player on the spring season. Tommy has recommitted himself to reach the next level of his tennis game and his work efforts paid off in this tourney.”
Hermanson would then finish off the tournament by defeating Morrell 10-5 in the third-place match.