|5/10/2013 9:48:00 AM|
'Cats on early roll, but frustrating SLP snatches one
by JEFF NORTON
Chisago Lakes 7, Princeton 0
The Chisago Lakes boys tennis team eased into their season after all the postponements with a sweeping victory over Princeton. The Tigers were without their top two players, the Mayerchek brothers, and that made things pretty simple for the ‘Cats. Joe Turnquist, Blake Lizotte and Thomas Gillach all won 6-0, 6-0 in their singles matches and Vinnie Gorski won 6-2, 6-0 in the other. In doubles, Hunter Haas and Jake Sells won 6-0, 6-0, Sheamus Sullivan and Dan Sargeant won 6-1, 6-0 and Zach Williamson and Jacob Speight won 6-0, 6-1.
Chisago Lakes 7, Robbinsdale Cooper 0
The Wildcats got another easy draw when they took on Robbinsdale Cooper in their North Suburban Conference opener. The Hawks have had a tough time fielding a competitive team lately, and Chisago Lakes took early advantage of that. Turnquist won 6-0, 6-1 at first singles, Gorski won 6-1, 6-0 at second, Lizotte won 6-0, 6-1 at third and Gillach won 6-0, 6-1 at fourth singles to complete the singles sweep. In doubles, Sells and Haas won 6-0, 6-1, Sullivan and Sargeant won 6-1, 6-1 and Williamson and Zak Lambrecht won 6-0, 6-0 at third doubles.
St. Louis Park 5, Chisago Lakes 2
The Wildcats first real test of the season just happened to be against one of their main competitors for the North Suburban Conference championship. “There was some great matches in the meet,” Head Coach Corey McKinnon said. “We just couldn’t get the cards to go our way, and it could’ve been for the conference championship. It’s too bad that was our first tough match. Elk River and Mounds View would’ve given us a challenge prior to this.” The wins came from Gillach at fourth singles and Haas and Sells at first doubles. Gillach mowed down his opponent 6-1, 6-3. “Thomas is playing some great tennis, and he is playing like a two or three singles player right now. This was just a good match for him,” McKinnon said.
Sells and Haas took care of business and won 6-3, 6-2. “The two guys played well and I give Hunter a lot of credit for being able to transition from our fourth singles player last year to our top doubles player,” McKinnon explained. There was a few other close matches that swung the pendulum to the Orioles. Lizotte lost 6-7 (4-7), 4-6 at third singles and Gorski lost 3-6, 5-7. At one point in the second set, Gorski was down 0-5, but he battled all the way back to 5-5 before his opponent grabbed the last two points. “I know tennis isn’t timed, but Vinnie just ran out of time,” McKinnon said after the match. “He was just on a roll for those five points and if he had just been down 1-3 or 2-4, things could’ve been different. But I was proud of Vin. He didn’t quit. It was a character loss where he gave it his all. It didn’t work out for him, but he’ll be able to take that lesson in not just tennis, but life as well.”
But, McKinnon’s patience was thin with St. Louis Park and their lineup management after the match. He didn’t hide the fact that he’ll be happy the ‘Cats won’t play SLP anymore with their upcoming conference switch. “I’ll just be blunt, their second doubles team was better than their first doubles team,” he said. “It’s a written rule to put your best players in the top spots, but St. Louis Park doesn’t do that so they can win points in different spots and it happens time and time again with them.” McKinnon pointed to the fact that SLP’s second doubles team that beat Sells and Sargeant 6-1, 6-3 featured a sophomore who has played second doubles since he was in eighth grade and a kid who played first doubles last year against Chisago Lakes, while their first doubles team featured one player who had played third doubles and one player who didn’t play at all against CL last year. McKinnon wasn’t upset at the loss, just the lack of sportsmanship that comes with the way the St. Louis Park lineup is constructed.
Chisago Lakes 4, Benilde-St. Margaret’s 3
The Wildcats edged the Red Knights in their last conference battle, and this is one rivalry that McKinnon will miss. “This was a classy match,” he said. “It just had a whole different feel than the St. Louis Park match. The Benilde program as a whole is just great.” The match was hotly contested throughout. Gillach was the first winner off the court for Chisago Lakes, as he continued his roll at fourth singles with a 6-0, 6-2 victory.
Sells and Haas and Sargeant and Sullivan dropped their doubles match to give the Red Knights the early 2-1 lead. Lizotte knotted it up with a tight, emotional win at third singles, besting his opponent 7-6 (9-7), 6-1. “Both guys had set point in the first set,” McKinnon said. “It was just a strong match, and when Blake won the first one, he was just on fire after that.” Gorski was the next off the court, and he brought with him a 3-2 lead as he won 4-6, 6-2, 6-2. He just slowly wore his opponent down after the first set loss, hit the reset button and just started playing his game. His maturity and experience kept Gorski in the match and earned him the win, according to McKinnon.
At third doubles Williamson and Lambrecht played lost a very tight match that sent the score to 3-3. They went 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 (5-7) in their match. The Wildcat pair was always just a step behind BSM in the deciding set, and they never took the lead from them before falling. At first singles, Turnquist was the last match on the court and the deciding point. He had lost the first set 3-6, but came back to win the second set 6-3. In the third set, he dominated from start to finish and won 6-0, giving CL the 4-3 win.“Joey got into a rhythm and went for points and risks, and his risks were paying off,” McKinnon explained. “He maintained his composure and forced his opponent into errors and just played phenomenal.”
Since it was their last conference match with BSM, McKinnon reflected on the fact that when he first came to the program as an assistant coach, the ‘Cats would barely be on the court for 45 minutes with BSM before they were swept off. “It was nice to be able to see the progress we’ve made and how much the gap has narrowed,” he said. “It was a nice way to cap off a rivalry. They are a well-coached team and we’ll miss playing them.”
Chisago Lakes 6, Columbia Heights 1
Turnquist, Gorski, Lizotte and Gillach all swept their opponents quickly in the singles department. At doubles, Haas had a prior engagement at a scholarship dinner, so the team of Sells and Sullivan won quickly at first doubles, and so did Sargeant and Williamson at second doubles. At third doubles, Speight and Lambrecht lost 6-4, 5-7, 6-7 (10-12).
“I was proud of both teams and give them each a lot of credit for battling even though the team score was long decided,” McKinnon said. “Heights is a well-coached team and they are starting to make some positive strides.” The Wildcats flurry of games continues this week as they took on Irondale, Mounds View and Spring Lake Park already this week and have a tri with Andover and Forest Lake scheduled this weekend.
Next Monday, they play at North Branch at noon and then travel to Totino-Grace at 4 p.m. in away-away doubleheader. McKinnon said the team will have eight bus trips in the next 10 days. When asked if they would be up for the challenge, he said, “They’ve got to be up for the challenge. We don’t have a choice.” Although the season just began, sections will begin next week already, as tennis traditionally has some of the earliest of the spring season.