Boys' Tennis: East Ridge sends singles ace, doubles team to state
Ben van der Sman is looking ahead to the challenge of the individual state tournament after a small test by Eagan's Maxim Zagrebelny in the Class 2A, Section 3 singles championship match in Lakeville on May 30.
The East Ridge senior made it a relatively quick first set against Zagrebelny, winning 6-2. But van der Sman faced more pressure in the second set as his Eagan opponent forced the score to 5-5.
van der Sman was able to regain control from there, breaking Zagrebelny's serve and following with a win in his next service game for a 7-5 set victory.
With the match in the balance, van der Sman knew he had to buckle down to wrap up the section singles championship.
"Those breaks are really important, so once I got that break I knew that I would have to work really hard to hold this last game," van der Sman said.
The Class 2A individual state tournament will start on June 8 after the conclusion of the team tournament on June 6 and 7.
After being the top-ranked singles player all season, van der Sman will head into the Class 2A singles tournament as the top-seeded player. He headed into this week with a 26-0 record.
van der Sman said he feels good about how he is hitting the ball heading into the final week of his high school career. But he talked about adjustments he needed to make, including getting ready for a new playing surface at the Baseline Tennis Center and facing the state's best tennis players.
"It's going good, there is definitely some stuff left to work on," van der Sman said. "I'm going to have to start thinking about certain opponents I'm going to play against, how I'm going to adjust my game to different styles of play. And obviously then adjusting to playing inside on baseline which are very different courts. They are a little slower."
The East Ridge doubles pair of seniors Nitin Venkatesh and Evan Fridinger needed to win a true second-place match to earn a spot in the Class 2A state doubles draw.
The East Ridge doubles pair advanced to the section title match where they lost 6-0, 6-2 to Rosemount's Anshul Bharath and Aashish Bharath.
With Venkatesh and Fridinger not yet facing the Hastings pair of Alec Rudh and Carson Konrady in the tournament, the teams played a true second-place match to determine which team would qualify for the state tournament.
Venkatesh and Fridinger won the match 6-2, 6-2 to solidify their second-place finish in the section.
Team state draw
East Ridge was seeded third in the Class 2A team state tournament and will play Duluth East at 2 p.m. on June 6 at the Baseline Tennis Center at the University of Minnesota.
The winner of that match will play either second-seeded Rochester Mayo or Wayzata on June 7 in the state semifinals.