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The Spartans men’s tennis team.  Front row left to right:  Captains Emmett Halloran, Cade Pfeiffer, and John Kasner.  Second row: Preston Perrill, Sam Skanse, Hugh Perrill, Owen Skanse and Matias Maule.  Top row: Ben Bissen, Jack Tanner, Tristan Peyton, Aiden Ecker, Joe Kasner, Cormac Martini and Karthik Papisetty.(Submitted photo)

The Orono Spartans men’s tennis team placed fourth in last week’s Minnesota AA State Tennis Tournament at Baseline Tennis Club on campus at the University of Minnesota. It was the teams best finish since 2003. The team played a strong regular season schedule having faced five of the seven other teams in the eight-team field. The team’s results earned the Spartans the number four seed in the event.

The Spartans drew the fifth seeded Wayzata Trojans. It was the third time the teams had faced each other this season with each team winning once. The rubber match between the teams would prove again how evenly matched the two teams have been. The Spartans drew first blood with two convincing singles wins from seniors Cade Pfeiffer (#3 singles) and John Kasner (#2 singles). The Trojans countered by winning at #1 and #2 doubles to even the score at 2 – 2. The Spartans inched ahead when freshmen Sam Skanse and Preston Perrill defeated Wayzata’s Jon Nudler and Eric Carlson 6 – 4, 6 – 1 giving the Spartans a 3 – 2 lead. Seventh grade #4 singles player Owen Skanse clinched the Spartans win with a 6 -1, 7 – 5 win over Brad Hagan. The Trojans won the #1 singles contest to finish up the 4 – 3 win on the scoresheet.

The Spartans faced top seeded Mounds View in the semifinals. The Spartans had lost to the Mustangs 5 – 2 in May but were hoping for the upset as play began the morning of June 5. The Spartans surged ahead with singles wins from Kasner, Pfeiffer and Owen Skanse which were offset by losses at #1 singles as well as #1 and #3 doubles. The match was determined at #2 doubles which featured Spartan freshman Matias Maule and 7th grader Hugh Perrill against state individual qualifiers Christo Alex (sophomore) and Michael Cao (senior). The Spartan duo fought valiantly but succumbed 7 -6 (9 – 7), 7 – 5 after fighting back from a 5 -1 deficit in the second set. The match gave the Mustangs a 4 – 3 win and propelled them to their first state title since 2015.

The Spartans lost 4 – 3 to #2 seeded Edina in the third-place match getting singles wins from Pfeiffer, Maule and Kasner. Retiring Coach Tim Arnold was pleased with the 4th place trophy, “The boys competed hard and gave the state champs their closest match. It has been a great season and the team’s future is in great hands with all of our young players.”

Individual Tournaments

Individual Tournament play began June 6th in both singles and doubles and four Spartan players qualified through section play. In doubles play, Cade Pfeiffer and Matias Maule won their first-round match over Willmar’s Hunter and Peyton Fischer 7 – 5, 6 – 1 before falling in the quarterfinals to Mounds View’s brother tandem of Petro and Emmanuel Alex 6 – 3, 6 – 3.

Two Spartans seniors qualified for the singles tournament, John Kasner and Karthik Papisetty. Kasner defeated Brainerd’s Patrick Moraghan 6 – 0, 6 – 0 before falling to second seeded Maxim Zagrebelny in the quarterfinals while Papisetty earned two lopsided wins into the semifinals before falling to eventual state champion Bjorn Swenson of Mounds View 6- 1, 3 - 6, 6 – 2. Papisetty finished fourth in the singles tournament.

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