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East Ridge tennis: Raptors gain high seed in sections

East Ridge boys tennis players gather up before facing Woodbury last week. The Raptors topped the Royals 6-1. (Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker)

The Raptors secured a No. 1 seed in section play thanks to a strong home stretch.

East Ridge closed out its final week of regular season play 2-1 among Suburban East Conference opponents and a first-place finish in a four-team tournament.

The Raptors earned the top seed in Section 3AA, giving them a first-round bye and a semifinal match-up against either Apple Valley (8) or Rosemount (9).

“Hopefully all our guys will be healthy and 100 percent for sectionals,” East Ridge coach Suzie Heideman said.

The Raptors started out the week May 6 with a 5-2 home loss to Mounds View, where only East Ridge’s top two singles players earned victories. No. 1 singles player Anuraag Bukkuri won 6-2, 6-1, while Ben Van der Sman, East Ridge’s No. 2 singles player, won 6-2, 6-1.

The Raptors turned things around the next day, however, against rival Woodbury: East Ridge won 6-1. Three of four singles players – Van der Sman, Greg Sharrow and Nikhil Gupta – earned straight-set wins over Woodbury opponents.

Meanwhile, the Raptors’ three doubles teams swept Woodbury. The No. 1 doubles team of Zekeria Nigatu and Vishaal Gupta overcame a tough second set to win 6-2, 4-6, 6-2. The No. 2 pairing of John Pratt and Yifan Lu won in straight sets, while East Ridge’s No. 3 team of Cormac Dolezal and Hantling Guo won a three-set battle.

On Thursday, May 8, East Ridge clinched the SEC title with a 6-1 win over Hastings. Heideman was able to play all six seniors in doubles play.

“I wanted the seniors to have a fun memory for their last conference match,” she said.

In the exhibition tournament at Cretin-Derham Hall, East ridge prevailed over Benilde-St. Margaret, Hastings and Cretin, despite key players sitting out with illness.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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