ST. PETER - Fairmont's Manuel Martinez and Sterlin Johnson made the transition from playing singles during the regular season to combining forces in doubles during Thursday's sectional individual action look remarkably smooth.
Martinez and Johnson, who played at the No. 1 and 2 singles spots, respectively, earned the No. 4 seed in the doubles bracket at the Section 2A tennis meet and reeled off two wins at the Gibbs Tennis Center in St. Peter to reach today's semifinals.
Martinez and Johnson face No. 1-seeded Matt Huber and Zeke Haugen from St. Peter at noon today at the Gustavus Adolphus College tennis facilities. Ironically, Huber and Haugen also played singles throughout the regular season before switching courts during sectional individual action Thursday.
BASELINE BLAST — Fairmont singles player Austin Becker prepares to hit a forehand return from the baseline during Section 2A Individual tennis action Thursday at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)
No. 2-seeded John Foss and Connor Olson of St. James - also regular-season singles netters - square off against No. 3-seeded Alex Willson and Ben Gault of St. Peter in today's other noon sectional semifinal.
"We like to think we know what we're doing when we sit down and seed the (singles and doubles) brackets," a smiling St. James mentor Les Zellmann said in reference to the sectional coaches' pre-meet ranking process.
While Huber and Haugen, along with Foss and Olson, earned first-round byes, the tandems of Martinez-Johnson and Willson-Gault posted straight-set wins to gain the quarterfinals.
Martinez and Johnson outdueled St. James' Will Runge and Connor Engel, 6-2, 6-4, in opening-round play, while Willson and Gault eliminated Blue Earth Area's Hunter Myers and Chandler Kienitz, 6-2, 6-1.
Martinez and Johnson then clicked on all cylinders in netting a 6-3 first-set victory over Holy Family Catholic's A.J. Spaulding and David Ogren during quarterfinal action. Spaulding and Ogren eliminated Blue Earth Area's Martin Granados and Jaron King in first-round play, 6-1, 6-0.
Spaulding and Ogren, however, held a 4-3 edge in the second set before Martinez and Johnson recorded a pivotal service break and held their own to claim the quarterfinal match's second set 6-4.
Huber and Haugen gained the quarterfinals by outslugging Mound Westonka's Tony Levens and Torsten Lee, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5).
In the other half of the doubles bracket, Foss and Olson downed Fairmont's Henrique Marquez and Carter Klanderud in the quarterfinals, 6-0, 6-1.
Marquez and Klanderud opened the sectional competition by eliminating Holy Angels' Skylar Hackett and Gabriel Rakes, 6-2, 6-4.
Willson and Gault earned a semifinal spot by outlasting HFC's Zack King and Ben Forbes, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2.
In Section 2A singles action, Fairmont's Austin Becker reached the quarterfinals via a straight-set win before losing to No. 3-seeded Jacob Sandefur of HFC, 6-2, 6-1.
Becker opened his day by netting a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Blue Earth Area's Leon Chaudrai, while Sandefur posted back-to-back 6-0 set wins over St. James' Colin Hoppe in the first round.
Sandefur faces No. 2-seeded Arend Turner of Mound Westonka in one of today's noon semifinals in St. Peter, while top-seeded Luke Moorhead of Mound Westonka takes on No. 5-seeded Robbie Bremer of HFC.
Bremer knocked out No. 4-seeded Will Curoe of Holy Angels in the quarterfinals, 6-2, 6-3. Curoe fended off Fairmont's Tyler Head in a three-set marathon opener, 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4.
Moorhead did not lose a game in rolling to a 6-0, 6-0 quarterfinal win over St. James' Cole Skow. Skow eliminated Blue Earth Area's Justus Thelen in the first round, 6-0, 7-5.
Turner, who qualified for the 2013 and 2012 Class A state doubles tournaments, displayed his singles skills by not dropping a game in posting back-to-back 6-0 set wins over St. Peter's Avery Bachman.
BOYS TENNIS MEET
1st Round: Luke Moorhead (Mound Westonka) received a bye. Cole Skow (St. James) d. Justus Thelen (Blue Earth Area) 6-0, 7-5. Robbie Bremer (Holy Family Catholic) d. Joey More (St. Peter) 6-1, 6-1. Will Curoe (Holy Angels) d. Tyler Head (Fairmont) 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4. Jacob Sandefur (Holy Family Catholic) d. Colin Hoppe (St. James) 6-0, 6-0. Austin Becker (Fairmont) d. Leon Chaudrai (Blue Earth Area) 6-3, 6-4. Avery Bachman (St. Peter) d. Sam McIlwain (Holy Angels) 6-1, 6-1. Arend Turner (Mound Westonka) received a bye.
Quarterfinals: Moorhead d. Skow, 6-0, 6-0. Bremer d. Curoe, 6-2, 6-3. Sandefur d. Becker, 6-2, 6-1. Turner d. Bachman, 6-0, 6-0.
1st Round: Matt Huber-Zeke Haugen (St. Peter) received a bye. Tony Levens-Torsten Lee (Mound Westonka) d. Marc Fink-Luke Schroeder (Holy Angels) 6-4, 6-0. A.J. Spaulding-David Ogren (Holy Family Catholic) d. Martin Granados-Jaron King (Blue Earth Area) 6-1, 6-0. Manuel Martinez-Sterlin Johnson (Fairmont) d. Will Runge-Connor Engel (St. James) 6-2, 6-4. Alex Willson-Ben Gault (St. Peter) d. Hunter Myers-Chandler Kienitz (Blue Earth Area) 6-2, 6-1. Zack King-Ben Forbes (Holy Family Catholic) d. Zach Martin-Timmy Levens (Mound Westonka) 6-0, 7-6 (7-1). Henrique Marquez-Carter Klanderud (Fairmont) d. Skylar Hackett-Gabriel Rakes (Holy Angels) 6-2, 6-4. John Foss-Connor Olson (St. James) received a bye.
Quarterfinals: Huber-Haugen d. Levens-Lee, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5). Martinez-Johnson d. Spaulding-Ogren, 6-3, 6-4. Willson-Gault d. King-Forbes, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2. Foss-Olson d. Marquez-Klanderud, 6-0, 6-1.