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Cardinals tame Tigers in season tennis opener, 6-1

BACKHAND WINNER — Fairmont’s Parker Vetter drills a backhand return for a winner while first doubles partner Noah Vetter (back left) looks on during season-opening tennis action against Albert Lea on Thursday at the Cardinal Courts in Fairmont. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — Fairmont head boys tennis coach Eric Johnson used every minute leading up to his team’s first meet to continue teaching.

After only three days of practice, Johnson’s Cardinals fought to a 6-1 win over the Albert Lea Tigers, while sweeping the singles bracket during Thursday’s nonconference season opener in Fairmont.

In the final moments before the dual, Johnson continued to encourage his new doubles players to use the Cardinal Courts’ alleys.

The advice worked for third doubles pair Simone Castro and Dominick May Lund, who were the first Cardinals to claim a win this spring.

“We made history today with Simone in the first varsity match played by a girl (in the spring season),” Johnson said. “The second piece of history being the first win by a girl during the spring season. All the new players had great attitudes and it was a good start to the season.”

Castro and May Lund worked their way to set wins of 6-1 and 6-2 to claim the Cardinals’ first match.

Fourth singles player Ian Fortune was next off the court when he finished a 6-1, 6-1 win over Alex Olson before Fairmont teammate Jack Hagen worked his way to a 6-3, 6-1 win over Adam Semple at the third singles spot.

“We know we’ve got a lot of youth and we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Johnson said. “There are going to be times when we struggle, but what I like about this team is that every time coach (Laura) Olson and I went out to have them change something … they were very willing to change. Sometimes, players, especially younger ones, are worried about doing something different, but they were all great today.”

Senior co-captain Thomas Klanderud clinched the meet for the Cardinals when he finished off two 6-2 set wins over Caleb Hanson at second singles.

The brotherly combo of Parker Vetter and Noah Vetter earned the Cardinals’ fifth win at first doubles. The righty-lefty pairing earned a 6-2 win in the opening set, then fell behind 2-1 to open the second. The brothers Vetter then won five of the next six games to close out a 6-3 second-set win.

Senior co-captain Ameya Komaragiri jumped ahead, but needed to overcome a super-tiebreaker to earn Fairmont’s final win.

Komaragiri eased his way to a 6-0 win in the first set, then Albert Lea captain Shine Thu overcame a 2-0 second-set deficit to take a 6-4 win and force a tiebreaker.

Thu jumped ahead in the tiebreaker 4-0, then Komaragiri closed the gap with a deep lob-to-overhead smash combo to bring the score to 4-2.

Thu extended the lead to 7-3, but Komaragiri scored six of the next seven points to close out a 10-8 victory.

“It was really weird, I haven’t done this for nearly two years with the boys,” Johnson said. “Getting a win was great, we didn’t know what to expect with so many new guys. Albert Lea is pretty new, too, so that kind of helped us out.

“I thought Ameya did a great job in that tiebreaker. He did a great job adjusting and doing some things he wasn’t all that comfortable with, but things he had to do. He executed it well, I was very pleased with that.”

The second doubles combo of Dylan Carlson and Jamison Trutwin earned the Tigers’ lone win of the day with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Weston Loughmiller and Sebastian Castro.

Fairmont (1-0) travels to Worthington at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday for its Big South Conference opener.

Fairmont 6, Albert Lea 1

Singles: Ameya Komaragiri (FMT) def. Shine Thu, 6-0, 4-6, 10-8. Thomas Klanderud (FMT) def. Caleb Hanson, 6-2, 6-2. Jack Hagen (FMT) def. Adam Semple, 6-3, 6-1. Ian Fortune (FMT) def. Alex Olson, 6-1, 6-1.

Doubles: Parker Vetter-Noah Vetter (FMT) Jack Doppelhammer-Will Taylor, 6-3, 6-3. Dylan Carlson-Jamison Trutwin (AL) def. Weston Loughmiller-Sebastian Castro, 7-5, 6-3. Simone Castro-Dominick May Lund (FMT) def. Cannan Kermes-Gurang Dual, 6-1, 6-2.

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