June 17, 2010 at 3:26 p.m.

Rau and Lizotte stage comeback in first match, drop second

Rau and Lizotte stage comeback in first match, drop second
Rau and Lizotte stage comeback in first match, drop second

Facing difficult odds, the junior pair of Brett Lizotte and David Rau defied them for at least one match.

The two were paired up against the only all-senior pair in the state tourney in Brad Malmsten and Alex Tollefson of Eden Prairie. The especially difficult part was the experience differential. This is Lizotte's first year of varsity tennis, and Rau, although he played a lot in Germany, was in his first year as a Wildcat varsity tennis player.

The opening set really showed the difference in experience. After every return, Malmsten and Tollefson would storm the net and create a wall for Rau and Lizotte to try to thread the needle past them or lob it over them. Since both are tough shots, Rau and Lizotte struggled throughout the first set. Although they were able to score a couple points, they went down fairly quietly in the first set 2-6, and it looked as if their first match would be their last.

However, the Chisago Lakes pair made an adjustment and started to combat Eden Prairie's aggressiveness. They started hitting the shots they were just missing in the first match, and the lobs were suddenly dropping just behind the Eagles' pair.

In the second set, although it stayed close throughout, Rau and Lizotte prevailed by a count of 6-4 to even the match at two sets and send it to a best-of-one to move on to the second round.

The third set began to resemble the second set quickly. Although Eden Prairie's attack was still effective, it wasn't nearly as effective as the first set, and the Chisago Lakes duo kept gaining more and more confidence in their shots.

It came down to 5-4 with Chisago Lakes leading, and they were able to get the closing point and send them on to the second round. It was a big win for the tennis team, as it was the first win for Chisago Lakes tennis at the state level. Although they weren't the first individuals to make it, as was incorrectly stated in last week's Press, they were the first to earn a victory.

Unfortunately for Rau and Lizotte, their second round match up was against Sam and Josh Gearou of Elk River. Although the pair are both only seventh graders, they have been playing together all their life and play a lot of club tennis. They are well-aged beyong their years, and even though they were locked in a tight battle in the first round, winning 7-6 (7-5), 2-6, 7-6 (7-3), they had no problem disposing of Rau and Lizotte in straight sets.

They breezed through the first set 6-0, and dropped the 'Cat pair 6-3 in the second set.

The Gearou brothers went on to lose their next match 1-6, 1-6 to eventual state champions Marcel Gyswyt and Ryan Erickson of Hopkins. The Gearou's ended up finishing in fourth place, dropping a 6-3, 6-2 decision to Tom Nath and Alex Olsen in the third place match.

Because they moved past the first round, but didn't make it into the third round, the day and season were over for Lizotte and Rau. If they had lost in the first round, they would've been entered into the consolation bracket, but their win sent them past that.

Although both are juniors, the pair will not be together again next year, Rau, who is a foreign exchange student from Germany, will be returning to his home country after this school year.

Lizotte, however, will be bolstered with a state tournament experience that he can pass on to either another doubles partner next year, or use to focus on his goals as a singles player.

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