Fairmont, Blue Earth Area fall short of 1A tennis semifinals

DOUBLING UP — Fairmont’s Thomas Klanderud (top right) connects on a forehand return from the baseline as doubles partner Blake Haugen prepares for a return during Section 1A individual tennis action Wednesday on the Gustavus Adolphus College campus in St. Peter. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)

ST. PETER — The 40 mph wind gusts were not the only factors to create interesting angles during Day 1 of the Section 1A individual tennis tournament Wednesday at the Swanson Tennis Courts.

No. 7-seeded singles player Pierre O’Driscoll of Schaeffer Academy defied the sectional coaches’ regularly precision pre-meet rankings, while the absence of defending Class A and Section 1 champions Pavao Veldic and Kevin Turlington of Rochester Lourdes created a vacuum in the doubles division on the Gustavus Adolphus College campus courts.

With Turlington opting to compete in track & field this spring and Pavao Veldic out due to an unspecified health issue, Lourdes teammates Jonny Onigkeit and Thomas Eckel capitalized by netting the section’s No. 1 seed. Onigkeit and Eckel placed second to Turlington and Pavao Veldic during the 2018 individual sectional meet before combining forces to win last spring’s Class A state consolation doubles crown.

Onigkeit and Eckel, however, were put to the test in Wednesday’s opening round by Fairmont’s Ameya Komaragiri and Pete Ortega. The Lourdes tandem posted a 6-3 first-set win before Komaragiri — the Cardinals’ regular No. 2 singles netter — and Ortega — the normal No. 1 doubles player — forced a second-set tiebreaker.

Incredible results, especially considering Komaragiri and Ortega’s limited preparation for sectional doubles action.

“We had one practice as a doubles team on Monday, and we couldn’t get outside on Tuesday due to the (cold and rainy) weather,” said Ortega, a first-year varsity player during just his second season competing in the sport. “I thought we played well considering it was our first time together on the court.”

“Pete’s game fits with anybody he plays with,” Komaragiri said in reference to Ortega’s complementary playing style. “Not (a) bad (result) for it being my first doubles match of the season.”

Onigkeit and Eckel managed to fend off Ortega and Komaragiri by a 7-4 score in the second-set tiebreaker to gain the quarterfinals. The Lourdes tandem defeated Schaeffer Academy’s Annie Orvis and Luke Bothun in back-to-back 6-3 sets to earn a semifinal clash with No. 5-seeded Jacob Butterfield and Jordane Kouba-Priebe at noon today.

Butterfield and Kouba-Priebe outlasted No. 4-seeded Landon Hoppe and Sawyer Evans of St. James Area in the quarterfinals, 7-6, 2-6, 6-4, to reach Day 2. Hoppe and Evans downed Blue Earth Area’s Parker Kienitz and James Greer in first-round play, 7-6, 6-3.

While Komaragiri and Ortega pressed the No. 1 seeds, Fairmont teammates Thomas Klanderud and Blake Haugen reached Wednesday’s quarterfinal with a minor first-round upset, according to the seedings.

Schaeffer Academy’s Dane Bothun and Brady Zimmerman — the No. 7 seeds — rallied from a 5-all opening-set score to net a 7-5 win before unseeded Klanderud and Haugen reeled off back-to-back 6-4 set victories to gain the second round.

Klanderud drilled a number of winners by utilizing the doubles alleys, in addition to hitting cross-court winners, while Haugen delivered clutch points via his strong service game and 180-degree spinning backhands.

“We’re (second) cousins, so maybe that’s why we (instinctly) played well together today,” Haugen said with a laugh.

No. 2-seeded Tony Wan and Jerry Yang of Cotter then outslugged Haugen and Klanderud, 6-1, 6-4, in the quarterfinals to set up today’s noon semifinal clash with Lourdes’ No. 3-seeded duo of Marjan Veldic and Nick Pittner.

Veldic and Pittner downed Blue Earth Area’s Jack Frundt and Nick Frundt in the quarterfinals, 6-2, 6-3. The Frundts coasted to a 6-1, 6-0 first-round victory over Stewartville’s Patrick Miller and William Mueller.

In Section 1A singles action Wednesday, unseeded Blue Earth Area’s Vern Johnson gained the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-2 opening win over Schaeffer Academy’s Faith Monson.

No. 1-seeded Lucas Doll of St. James Area, however, ended Johnson’s day by netting a 6-1, 6-3 quarterfinal triumph.

Doll earned a spot in today’s noon singles semifinal against No. 4-seeded Ethan Humble of Stewartville. Humble defeated Cotter’s Matt Besek, 6-2, 6-4, in the quarterfinals. Besek, in turn, outlasted Fairmont’s Tyrell Zieske in a hard-hitting opening-round clash, 6-3, 6-4.

Cotter’s Ian Modjeski, who placed third in the 2018 Section 1A singles tourney, will face the upset-minded O’Driscoll in today’s semifinal.

O’Driscoll opened his day with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Fairmont’s Aaron Hendricks before outdueling No. 2-seeded Charlie Huttemier of Waseca in the quarterfinals, 7-5, 6-4. Huttemier placed fourth in the sectional singles bracket a year ago.

The No. 3-seeded Modjeski kept his chances alive for an individual state bid by outdueling St. James Area’s Ben Foss in a three-set quarterfinal, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4. Foss opened his day with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Blue Earth Area’s Jack Barke.

Section 1A Individual

Boys Tennis Tournament

Singles Bracket

1st Round: Lucas Doll (St. James) def. Nolan Morrey (Lourdes) 6-0, 6-4. Vern Johnson (Blue Earth Area) def. Faith Monson (Schaeffer) 6-3, 6-2. Matt Besek (Cotter) def. Tyrell Zieske (Fairmont) 6-3, 6-4. Ethan Humble (Stewartville) def. Jay Lewer (Waseca) 2-6, 6-2, 6-1. Ian Modjeski (Cotter) def. Ethan Olerich (Stewartville) 6-1, 6-0. Ben Foss (St. James) def. Jack Barke (Blue Earth Area) 6-0, 6-1. Pierre O’Driscoll (Schaeffer) def. Aaron Hendricks (Fairmont) 6-1, 6-0. Charlie Huttemier (Waseca) def. Birch Lewis (Lourdes) 6-4, 6-4.

Quarterfinals: Doll (SJ) def. Johnson (BEA) 6-1, 6-3. Humble (STEW) def. Besek (C) 6-2, 6-4. Modjeski (C) def. Foss (SJ) 6-2, 2-6, 6-4. O’Driscoll (SCHA) def. Huttemier (WAS) 7-5, 6-4.

Doubles Bracket

1st Round: Jonny Onigkeit-Thomas Eckel (Lourdes) def. Ameya Komaragiri-Pete Ortega (Fairmont) 6-3, 7-6 (7-4). Annie Orvis-Luke Bothun (Schaffer) def. Rob Besek-Joey Renk (Cotter) 7-6, 6-2. Jacob Butterfield-Jordane Kouba-Priebe (Waseca) def. Jack Parry-Justin Beach (Stewartville) 6-0, 6-0. Landon Hoppe-Sawyer Evans (St. James) def. Parker Kienitz-James Greer (Blue Earth Area) 7-6, 6-3. Nick Pittner-Marjan Veldic (Lourdes) def. Ritchie Diedrich-JP Swanson (Waseca) 6-0, 6-0. Jack Frundt-Nick Frundt (Blue Earth Area) def. Patrick Miller-William Mueller (Stewartville) 6-1, 6-0. Thomas Klanderud-Blake Haugen (Fairmont) def. Dane Bothun-Brady Zimmerman (Schaeffer) 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. Tony Wan-Jerry Yang (Cotter) def. Trey Witcraft-Josue Solorzano (St. James) 6-3, 6-3.

Quarterfinals: Onigkeit-Eckel (L) def. Orvis-L. Bothun (SCHA) 6-3, 6-3. Butterfield–Kouba-Priebe (WAS) def. Hoppe-Evans (SJ) 7-6, 2-6, 6-4. Pittner-Veldic (L) def. J. Frundt-N. Frundt (BEA) 6-2, 6-3. Wan-Yang (C) def. Klanderud-Haugen (Fairmont) 6-1, 6-4.

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