FAIRMONT - With a pair of three-set victories, the Fairmont Cardinals boys tennis team was able to fend off the Waseca shutout.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the Class A, No. 7-ranked Bluejays still managed to keep their undefeated South Central Conference record with a 5-2 win on Thursday at Cardinal Courts in Fairmont.
"They were missing their second-best player, so everyone in their lineup moved up and we thought that might help us," said Fairmont head coach Eric Johnson. "There were a couple matches I think we could have won if it was warmer, but we played well in most of the matches."
WINNING WAYS — Fairmont third singles player Austin Becker sends a forehand back toward Waseca’s Matt Wendland during South Central Conference tennis action on Thursday at Cardinal Courts in Fairmont. Becker held on to win the match, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Austin Becker came back after losing his opening set to Waseca's Matt Wendland in the No. 3 singles match for the first of the Cardinal wins.
Wendland cruised through the first set, winning 6-1, before Becker switched up his strategy and took the second set.
"Austin's opponent was hitting shots to the middle of the court and drawing him in and getting him stuck in that first set," said Johnson. "So we talked about that and how to avoid getting caught in that position, and that really turned things around in the match."
After the adjustment, Becker's accurate cross-court shots and consistent groundstrokes wore Wendland down as he won back-to-back sets, 6-2, 6-1 to win the match.
In the other Cardinal victory, the third doubles team of Ryan Busche and Mitch Anderton also staked a comeback to win the final two sets for the victory.
The Bluejays' Marcus DeKruif and John Janssen held off Busche and Anderton for the 6-4 first-set victory, before the Cardinal duo responded.
Busche and Anderton then battled through the second set, winning long rallies with deep ground strokes and strong volleys to even the match.
After the Cardinals held a 5-2 lead in the middle set, the Bluejays surged to win four straight games for a 6-5 lead.
Busche and Anderton then used four stellar serve returns to even the set at 6-6. The Cardinal duo held off the Bluejays to win the set 7-6 (7-5) in the tiebreaker.
Due to cold temperatures and dwindling daylight the third-set was settled in a super tiebreaker, with the Cardinals edging the Bluejays 12-10.
"I thought that was a big win for Ryan and Mitch," said Johnson. "With Ryan his serve can be inconsistent, so for him to serve up good ones when they needed it was big, and both players played really well against a solid opponent."
Manuel Martinez battled against the Bluejays' John Lewer at No. 1 singles, keeping within a game throughout the first set.
"Manuel had a tough opponent for his match," said Johnson. "Waseca's player is a good player, but so is Manuel. Today I think the weather got the best of him though, and kept him from getting the win."
Despite staying close in the opening set, Lewer won the opening set 7-5, before cruising to a 6-0 second-set victory.
Ben Johnson and Dakota Johnson then took the second and fourth singles matches for the Bluejays.
Ben Johnson eased by Tyler Head 6-3, 6-1 at second singles, before Dakota Johnson downed Tony Joseph, 6-3, 6-4, at fourth singles.
"For Tony, this was his first varsity singles match, and I thought that he did a great job," said Johnson. "The guy he was playing against had a better serve, so Tony couldn't break his serve, but he played well."
The Bluejays first and second doubles teams captured the win for the visitors, sweeping both matches in straight sets.
Josh Kimball and Josh Metzdorff eased by Sterlin Johnson and Henrique Marquez in a 6-4, 6-2 win at No. 1 doubles, before Andy Haley and Michael Butterfield won the second doubles match.
"I really thought that Sterlin has been playing well, and he did again today, but I thought that by putting him with Henrique we might be able to steal a win at first doubles," said Johnson. "Unfortunately we couldn't."
Haley and Butterfield won the opening set 6-3, before fending off Jake Kallenbach and Carter Klanderud 7-6 (7-4) in a second-set tiebreaker.
Fairmont (2-4, 1-3 SCC) travels to play a 4 p.m. nonconference match today in Chanhassen.
Waseca (5-1, 3-0 SCC) travels to play in the Pine City Invite at 8 a.m. Saturday in Pine City.
Waseca 5, Fairmont 2
Singles: John Lewer (W) def. Manuel Martinez, 7-5, 6-0. Ben Johnson (W) def. Tyler Head, 6-3, 6-1. Austin Becker (F) def. Matt Wendland, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1. Dakota Johnson (W) def. Tony Joseph, 6-3, 6-4.
Doubles: Josh Kimball-Josh Metzdorff (W) def. Sterlin Johnson-Henrique Marquez, 6-4, 6-2. Andy Haley-Michael Butterfield (W) def. Jake Kallenbach-Carter Klanderud, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4). Ryan Busche-Mitch Anderton (F) def. Marcus DeKruif-John Janssen, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 12-10.
Singles: Jacob Dooley (W) def. Shawn Busche, 6-1. Jacob Dooley (W) def. Connor Madsen, 6-0.
Doubles: Collin Diedrich-Collin Rongstad (W) def. Calvin King-Andy Hagen, 6-2. Shawn Busche-Connor Madsen (F) def. Owen Lewer-Logan Goodlander, 6-4. Richard Stahl-Clayton Tanner (W) def. Ben Hernes-Kellen Rodriguez, 6-0. Sam Ferch-Tobin Huelsnitz (W) def. Eric Head-Matt Moeller, 6-1. Isaac Carter-Jacob Howson (W) def. Christo Washa-Collin Stone, 6-1. Alex Ebnet-Cody Platte (W) def. Ben Hernes-Kellen Rodriguez, 6-1. Jim Hoehn-Thomas Donelan (W) def. Eric Head-Evan Carlson, 6-1. Calvin King-Andy Hagen (F) def. Dillon Janssen-Tyler Wendland, 6-1.