May 7, 2009 at 8:16 a.m.
No matter what the records, the talent, the skills or the traditions are when Chisago Lakes and North Branch meet, it's usually a close match in every sport. Each team just bumps their game up a notch for those local bragging rights, and boys tennis was no different.
When the Vikings and Wildcats squared off on Tuesday, April 28, everyone knew it was going to be a close, hard-fought match, and they were right. After two hours of tough tennis play from each side, it came all the way down to the fourth singles match up.
Before that drama unfolded, there was some good tennis on the North Branch courts by the other players.
At second singles, CL's Cam Bouwens ended his match early with a 6-1, 6-1 sweep. At third singles, North Branch's Matt Jarvis evened the score up with a 6-2, 6-1 shellacking. "Matt played the best he has all year, and is starting to move like a tennis player," North Branch Head Coach Chad Brusky said.
Another quick match came at third doubles, where Alex Swanson and Mike Swanson downed their North Branch counterparts 6-1, 6-2, to take a 2-1 lead in the team match.
After NB's Travis Heilig and Aaron Good knotted the match back up with a 6-4, 6-2 win at first doubles, things got very interesting between the rest of the competitors. The win was the fourth in a row for the doubles duo.
Nick Lambrecht of North Branch and Jared Rectenwal were locked in a back-and-forth battle at first singles. At fourth singles, Wildcat Vinnie Gorski and Viking John Jakubowski had a draining first set, with Gorski edging Jakubowski in a tiebreak 7-6 (9-7). And in second doubles, Tommy Johnson and Jake Sells of Chisago Lakes stumbled in their second set, losing 7-6 (8-6) to Tyler Cosgrove and Devon Quam of North Branch, after breezing through the first set 6-0.
Johnson and Sells were the first to finish up their match. Besides the hiccup in the second set, the two overpowered Cosgrove and Quam. The Chisago Lakes duo bested the North Branch pair 6-0, 6-7(8-6), 6-2.
The win gave Chisago Lakes a one point lead in the team match at 3-2, and if Rectenwal could finish off what he started, the Wildcats could cruise to the North Suburban Conference win.
Lambrecht, however, had different plans at first singles. After Rectenwal had won the first set 6-3, Lambrecht battled back to win 6-4 in the second set.
In the third and deciding set, both players mixed up their shots, hitting long volleys and dropping in finesse shots. Lambrecht, though, came out the victor, winning the third set 6-2 to tie the team match back up.
After the Rectenwal-Lambrecht matched ended, everyone flocked down a few courts to watch Jakubowski and Gorski battle it out. The pair was a set behind everyone because of their extended tiebreak action, but Gorski held the edge, up 1-0 in sets, and enjoying a 4-2 lead in the second set. Jakubowski scored the next point, trimming the lead to 4-3, however, Gorski, an eighth-grader, used an effective serve to gain his fifth point of the set.
Jakubowski knocked the lead back down to one point when he won the next point, but Gorski sealed the deal before Jakubowski could get his fifth point. It would've forced the game into a tiebreak, but Gorski had none of that, and celebrated the win with his teammates and coach. Both Chisago Lakes' Head Coach Corey McKinnon and Brusky pulled their young fourth singles players aside to give them each a pep talk about the match.
It was a tough match for both, but only one could win, and it was Gorski.
"Overall, this was a very tight match," Brusky said. "It's always good when you play a team and it comes down to the last match on the court. But, we did get great play from Nick, Matt and the doubles team of Travis and Aaron."
Totino-Grace 7, North Branch 0
Going into the match, the Vikings knew they had a tough draw in the Eagles of Totino-Grace. "We knew they were a very good team," Brusky noted. "But, I was very proud of the sportsmanship exhibited by my players during the entire match."
Lambrecht was the only Viking who was able to extend his match to three sets. After losing the first 6-2, he came back to win the second set 6-4. However, Joe Novitzki, his opponent from Totino-Grace, put the clamps on Lambrecht's comeback with a 6-4 victory in the third and final set.
Heilig and Good had their win streak snapped at first doubles with a tough 6-1, 6-3 loss to Ben Nichols and Logan McDermott, a phenomenal doubles team from TG.
Brett Johnson made his varsity debut for the Vikings at third doubles. He teamed with Jeff Anderson, and the two had one of the closer matches of the day against the pair from Totino.
Spring Lake Park 7, North Branch 0
The Vikings had another tough match on their schedule right after the Eagles. The Spring Lake Park Panthers boast some very strong tennis players, and it was evident in their sweep of North Branch.
Again, only one player was able to extend his match to three, and that was Brandon Sonnenfeld at second singles. After winning the first set 6-2, it looked as if Sonnenfeld may have a nice victory on his hands, but Abe Dester of SLP furiously stormed back to win the next two sets 6-2, 6-0.
The match marked the return of one of the Vikings' top singles players, Carl Fisk, but he couldn't do much in his first match back against a very good SLP third singles player.
"This was a very hard match for us coming in," Brusky noted. "Two players on the team were unable to play due to injury or obligations to school, but we came out and battled tough the whole time."
Although they conceded the match 7-0, Brusky was still pleased that some new guys got experience on varsity against a tougher squad. "It was a great opportuni for some players to step up and play," he said. "It's always exciting to see someone playing varsity for the first time."
The Vikings close out their schedule with four matches in the next eight days. The rest of their time spent on the court is going to be in preparation for sections, which is essentially a new season for a struggling squad like the Vikings.
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