June 14, 2024 at 1:45 p.m.

Helberg not happy with only being at the state tournament, wins a match


By JEFF NORTON | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment
Sports Editor

North Branch’s Wyatt Helberg wasn’t satisfied simply being the first North Branch boy to make it to the state tennis tournament.

The freshman, who is playing outstanding tennis at the best time, beat Rock Ridge’s Payton Marks 6-4, 6-3 in the first round.

He used a good mix of challenging shots and tight defense to defeat the Wolverine challenger. 

The win sent Helberg to the quarterfinals to take on Patrick Green of Breck. Green had upset the third seed in the tournament, Isaac Thomforde of Crookston, in the first round, winning 4-6, 6-1, 6-1.

Green and Helberg had a heck of a quarterfinals match, but Green came out on top in three sets. The Mustang took the first set, a close one, 6-4, as he broke Helberg’s serve just once, but that was enough to be the difference.

In the second set, Helberg returned the favor and won 6-4. He broke Green twice and that gave him some wiggle room when he needed it late. 

In the third set, Green’s experience and age helped him overtake Helberg 6-0. The Breck senior is four years older than Helberg and has many more highly competitive matches under his belt and just knew how to take over in that third set.

For Helberg, this was just the beginning.  He did well in the regular season as the top singles player, but he really turned-up his game when it came to the postseason and the experience he gained and the great tennis he played will be a foundation from which to grow for the next three years in North Branch tennis.

“It was such a great day for Wyatt,” Head Coach Joel Santjer said. “He was pushed by good players and had to make adjustments all day. He had a really good first round match and had to play a little differently than he has before, and had a lot of pressure to hold serve. He rose to the occasion and was able to secure the win in the first round.

“The second round brought different challenges, as his new opponent was very consistent and was able to change his game around. Wyatt again adjusted and won five games in a row to push to a third set and make it a closer match. We're super proud of his season, and the takeaways from this year are just his ability to push, learn and adjust. We certainly hope that this will propel him into great results next year.”



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