FAIRMONT - Fairmont's doubles players worked in synchronization on Saturday to pocket a pair of points during a pre-prom dual tennis meet in Fairmont.
The Cardinals' J.T. Viesselman and Andrew Johnson packed a solid 1-2 punch at the No. 1 spot in the doubles lineup, while teammates Ryan Busche and Carter Klanderud assembled a stellar second-set rally at second doubles to exit Cardinal Courts with victories in hand.
The Mankato East Cougars, however, swept the singles bracket to help pace a 5-2 nonconference team triumph over the youthful Cardinals.
TEAMWORK — Fairmont first doubles player Andrew Johnson (front) awaits a possible return as teammate J.T. Viesselman delivers a serve during tennis action against Mankato East on Saturday in Fairmont. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)
"We're steadily getting better with each match and you can see the improvement in the little aspects of the game," said Eric Johnson.
Trailing 3-0 in the team portion after East's Mason Bultje, Dominic Cannella and Chris Liu combined to lose only one game in winning the No. 1-3 singles matches, respectively, Viesselman and Andrew Johnson denied the visiting Cougars a shutout.
"We had some trouble getting in our first serves today, but everything else was working pretty well," said Viesselman.
Indeed. Viesselman and Johnson outdueled Brendan Loavza and Griffin Bibbs to claim a hard-fought 6-4 victory before registering a pivotal service break in Game 5 of the second set to ignite a 6-2 win at first doubles.
Busche and Klanderud then displayed their mettle during the second set after producing a 6-2 opening-set decision over Liban Hassan and Brandon Sloniker at No. 2 doubles.
Hassan and Sloniker grabbed an early lead in the second frame and clung to the one-game edge through nine games.
"I told Carter that I really didn't want to play a third set," Busche said with a smile.
Busche and Klanderud then worked in perfect unison to earn a key break point to grab a 6-5 lead before closing out their 7-5 second-set win.
The Cardinals' third doubles tandem of Mitch Anderton and Jake Kallenbach battled Ahmed Sugulle and Cody Shetka during a 12-game opening set, eventually losing a 7-5 decision to their Cougar foes. Sugulle and Shetka later netted the dual meet's final team tally by winning the second set, 6-1.
Despite losing a 6-0 first-set decision, Fairmont fourth singles netter Austin Becker displayed his resilience by bouncing back from a large second-set deficit to Kameron Saiki.
"Austin really did a nice job of coming back after trailing 5-0 in the second set," said Eric Johnson.
Austin Becker assembled a frenetic rally to even the second segment at 5-all before Saiki regrouped to claim the next two games to cap a 6-0, 7-5 win.
Bultje defeated Grant Becker at No. 1 singles, 6-1, 6-0; Cannella downed Sterlin Johnson at second singles, 6-0, 6-0; while Liu posted back-to-back 6-0 set wins over Tyler Head at the third spot in the singles bracket.
Fairmont (1-3, 1-1 South Central) plays host to St. James at 4:30 p.m. today at Cardinal Courts. Mankato East (4-3) entertains New Ulm at 4:30 p.m. today in Mankato.
Mankato East 5, Fairmont 2
Singles: Mason Bultje (ME) d. Grant Becker, 6-1, 6-0. Dominic Cannella (ME) d. Sterlin Johnson, 6-0, 6-0. Chris Liu (ME) d. Tyler Head, 6-0, 6-0. Kameron Saiki (ME) d. Austin Becker, 6-0, 7-5.
Doubles: J.T. Viesselman-Andrew Johnson (F) d. Brendan Loavza-Griffin Bibbs, 6-4, 6-2. Ryan Busche-Carter Klanderud (F) d. Liban Hassan-Brandon Sloniker, 6-2, 7-5. Ahmed Sugulle-Cody Shetka (ME) d. Mitch Anderton-Jake Kallenbach, 7-5, 6-1.
Mankato East 3, Fairmont 1
Singles: Hassan Hassan (ME) d. Calvin King, 4-0, 4-2.
Doubles: Tony Joseph-Andy Hagen (F) d. Andrew Miller-Josh Ouyang, 4-2, 2-4, (10-8). Mark Williams-Bill Busuri (ME) d. Shawn Busche-Conner Madsen, 4-2, 4-2. Patrick Mejias-Sean Rai (ME) d. Kellen Rodriguez-Ben Hernes, 5-4, 5-4.