BOYS TENNIS: Warriors' Zelinska finishes third in section
ST. CLOUD — Brainerd’s Lenka Zelinska finished third in the Section 8-2A singles tournament Wednesday after losing 7-6 (7-0), 6-2 to Riley Bates of St. Cloud Tech in the true second-place match.
It was the fourth time this season that Zelinska, a female foreign student from Slovakia, had played Bates, who won three of the four matchups.
Her loss to Bates was her third match of the day.
In the semifinals she lost to eventual champion Jason Dilly of Becker 6-4, 6-0. She then beat Tyler Shustarich of St. Michael-Albertville 6-4, 6-2 in the third-place match, a victory that earned her a shot at true second place against Bates since Zelinska had not lost to Bates in the section tournament.
“Three matches in a day against very good opponents, that was a lot for her today,” Warriors coach Bruce Thompson said. “It was a huge challenge to have enough energy for three matches and six different sets of tennis.
“Lenka really played well today. She earned the third spot. She was right there for the second spot, but Bates pulled it out.”
Thompson said it was a good thing Wednesday’s final rounds were played outdoors.
“It was cloudy and cool,” he said. “Had it been 85 or 90 and sunny it would have been brutal. It was very tough on Lenka, or anybody else, especially going three matches. Two is workable. A third would have been very difficult if it was really hot and humid.”
Bates had beaten Dilly in Tuesday’s team tournament but Dilly ruled the individual championship match Wednesday, beating Bates 6-4, 6-0.
“In the team event, Bates beats him, today (Dilly) was a different player,” Thompson said. “(Dilly) surprised me. I thought if we could get that first set against him we might rattle him and take him out, but we were not able to get it.
“Lenka was not at her best that match (against Dilly). She played well but didn’t play her best tennis. She played her best match against Bates.”
Zelinska finished the season 19-4 and was the first girl to play in the Warrior boys program.
“She was very coachable, she worked hard, she played serious out there,” Thompson said. “She’s a good competitor, she loves to compete. She does not like losing. She took the regular season serious, she took the tournaments serious. We hoped she could do well and she did what she could.
“Every day she stepped out there she faced a challenge and she took it in stride. She’s a very good tennis player. We have some nice kids on our team, and she was one of them.”
Section 8-2A singles tournament
Semifinals: Jason Dilly (Becker) def. Lenka Zelinska (Brd) 7-5, 6-2
Third place: Zelinska def. Tyler Shustarich (StMA) 6-4, 6-2
True second place: Riley Bates (Tech) def. Zelinska 7-6 (7-0), 6-2
Championship: Dilly def. Bates 6-4, 6-0