Boys Tennis: Warriors crowned conference champs with win over St. Cloud
Brainerd hosts St. Cloud May 16
BRAINERD — Eli McConkey did not want to go to a third set Monday, May 16.
The Brainerd senior and No. 3 singles player came back to force a second set tiebreaker against his St. Cloud opponent Jacob Vogel.
The match was tied 3-3. A Warrior win would clinch the Central Lakes Conference title outright.
“I was headed into the tiebreaker thinking, I do not want to go into a third set,” McConkey said. “I was very tired and I knew it was win it now or not win it at all.”
McConkey won the second set tiebreaker 7-3. He and Vogel went into a tiebreak in the first set, too, with McConkey winning 7-4.
“We needed him to do that,” Warriors head coach Ellen Fussy said. “His legs were getting a little tired and a little tight and so he needed to finish it out in two (sets) which he did. I am really proud of him. Sometimes in a match when you are playing, it’s hard to change your game strategy and I went out and talked with him that he needed to change it a little bit because what he was doing he needed to just stay in the point and not hit a winner and he did a good job of staying with the point.”
McConkey said it was a little deja vu as he was the last win needed to beat St. Cloud April 28.
“It was the same situation the first time we played Tech. It was 3-3 and Fussy came up to me and asked if I played well under pressure,” he said. “I said ‘ya, why?’ and she said ‘because we need you to win.’ She said the same thing today. So history kind of repeats itself.”
When McConkey won his teammates came and carried him off the court.
“That was a great feeling,” he said. “I kind of had a burst of energy there when Beck (Barber) came over and shoulder bumped me. It was a great feeling.”
Eli McConkey carried off by his teammates as his 7-3 win in the second set tiebreak at No. 3 Singles gives the Warriors the outright Central Lakes Conference title with a 4-3 win over St. Cloud.@JeremyMillsop @Dispatchbizbuzz @BRDWarriorsAD pic.twitter.com/lF4VLylhjh— Conrad Engstrom (@the_rad34) May 16, 2022
After the Warriors No. 1 doubles team of Noah Madsen and Karl Anderson won 6-4, 7-5, the match was tied 2-2 with the other Warrior win coming from Mattthew Moraghan at No. 2 singles 6-1, 6-4.
“That was a good doubles match,” Fussy said of her No. 1 doubles team. “They are really steady and both smart doubles players and very athletic. It was a good win.”
The only matches left were No. 4 singles, No. 3 doubles and McConkey at No. 3 singles.
Brainerd’s Jalen Emslander won his third set 6-0 to win his match at No. 4 singles, but the Warriors lost a three-set match at No. 3 doubles 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 leaving McConkey.
“We battled and the kids really laid it all out there,” Fussy said. “I told them before the match it’s going to come down to who wants it most because we are really comparable teams and I guess Brainerd wanted it more. I am really, really, proud of them.”
The win moved Brainerd to 8-1 in CLC play. The lone loss came last Friday to Alexandria.
The next time the Warriors will be in action is Saturday in the Section 7-2A Individual Tournament. Moraghan and Beck Barber will play singles while McConkey will be paired with Clark Haglin along with the Madsen-Anderson team in doubles.
Fussy said the Section 7-2A seeding meeting is later Monday evening. She predicts her boys will be the No. 3 seed behind Elk River and Duluth East.
“My guess is that Duluth (East) will get the No. 1, Elk River the two seed and us the three,” she said. “If it goes how I believe it will go.”
Brainerd 4, St. Cloud 3
No. 1: Michael Plombon (SC) def. Beck Barber 6-2, 6-4
No. 2: Matthew Moraghan (Brd) def. Cohn Cai 6-1, 6-4
No. 3: Eli McConkey (Brd) def. Jacob Vogel 7-6(4), 7-6(3)
No. 4: Jalen Emslander (Brd) def. Charle Simon 2-6, 6-2, 6-0
No. 1: Noah Madsen-Karl Anderson (Brd) def. Gavin Feastad-Ripley Gordon 6-4, 7-5
No. 2: Ben Frank-Jonah Atkinson (SC) def. Clark Haglin-Will Aadland 6-3, 6-4
No. 3: Josh Vogel-Zach Stang (SC) def. Riley Pike-Ben Karlgaard 6-1, 3-6, 6-4
Brainerd 4, St. Cloud 3
Key: McConkey’s win clinches CLC title for Warriors
Conference: Brd 8-1, SC 5-3.
Overall: Brd 11-8, SC 7-9.
Next: Brainerd at Section 7-2A Individual Tournament in Blaine 10 a.m. Saturday, May 21.