Boys Tennis: Warriors drop close match to Alex

Brainerd hosts Alexandria in boys tennis April 13

Tennis player hits a backhand.
Brainerd's Will Aadland returns the ball against Alexandia on Thursday, April 13, 2023, at Brainerd High School
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — The first spring home event for Brainerd did not go as planned.

The boys’ team lost a Central Lakes Conference match 4-3 to the Alexandria Cardinals Thursday, April 13.

Due to the melting snow, four of the tennis courts were not played on because of water.

Brainerd head coach and soon-to-be hall of fame inductee Ellen Fussy liked the way her team competed, especially with it being the first time the boys played outside this spring.

“I think we competed,” Fussy said. “I’m not disappointed with any of the effort across the board. You never like to lose, but I felt like they played as good as they could just with our time on the court. This is our first time hitting any balls outside and the ball bounces differently when you are outside. There was a little wind which was a factor. There are no excuses because we are going to get better with every match.”


All three of the Warriors’ wins came in three sets.

Senior Karlton Anderson, at No. 2 singles, lost his first set to Alexandria’s Cole Haabala 6-4. Anderson trailed in the second set 5-4 before racing back to win 7-5. He capped it off with a 6-4 win in the third set coming back from being down 4-3.

“Karl has played a lot of doubles in his career, so I was very pleased to see him battle at singles,” Fussy said. “Singles and doubles are still tennis, but they are totally different games and you approach them differently, too. So for Karl to play tough and hang in there not only physically, but mentally was good.”

Junior Will Aadland, like Anderson, lost his first set 7-6 losing the tiebreaker 7-5. He battled back to win the next two sets 6-3, 6-0 to knock off Alexandria’s Brett Thornburg at No. 3 singles.

“He’s played a lot of doubles, too, like Karl, so we put both of those players in singles matches and we got a win out of both of them,” Fussy said. “Will came out feeling a little shaky. He told me during the first set that he was a little nervous. I just told him to get in his groove. He came back and won the next two and won the third set very convincingly.”

At No. 3 doubles, a pair of Warrior freshmen — Owen Robertson and Sawyer Riffle — won their first set 6-3 before losing the second 4-6. The young duo won the third set 6-4 to knock off Alexandria sophomores Charlie Johnson and Lucas Fernholz.

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“We brought them up last year, so they saw a little bit of varsity as eighth graders,” Fussy said. “They are still rookies, but just came into this year a little more seasoned. We are asking them to do things and they are executing. They play strong doubles and really are pressing at the net to get their opponents back.”

Brianerd’s Matthew Moraghan saw his first competitive action of the season at No. 1 singles and lost to Owen Gilbertson 6-1, 6-4. At No. 4 singles, Clark Haglin fell to Nik Cook 6-2, 6-1.


Brainerd’s No. 1 doubles team of Brady Johnson and George Campbell lost in straight sets 6-4, 6-2 to Blake Svee and Chase Thompson. As did the Warriors’ No. 2 doubles team of Micah Halbersma and Brayden Tollerson, who fell to Leo Koupelien and Ryker Bosek 6-1, 6-4.

The Warriors fall to 0-3 and are back home Tuesday, April 18, where they’ll host Duluth East and Fergus Falls. Duluth East is a Section 7-2A opponent while Fergus Falls is a Central Lakes Conference opponent.

“We put out a lineup that we are not sure we are going to use again,” Fussy said. “We are still trying to figure out where the puzzle pieces fall. We are going to continue to work on service and what I’m really hoping to work more on is service return because that is 70% of the game. You want to get that first win out of the gate especially when it’s conference, but I’m hoping when we go back to Alexandria later this month it’ll be a different result.”

Alexandria 4, Brainerd 3


No. 1: Owen Gilbertson (A) def. Matthew Moraghan 6-1, 6-4

No. 2: Karlton Anderson (Brd) def. Cole Haabala 4-6, 7-5(9), 6-4

No. 3: Will Aadland (Brd) def. Brett Thornburg 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-0

No. 4: Nik Cook (A) def. Clark Haglin 6-2, 6-1


No. 1: Blake Svee-Chase Thompson (A) def. Brady Johnson-George Campbell 6-4, 6-2

No. 2: Leo Koupelien-Ryker Bosek (A) def. Micah Halbersma-Brayden Tollerson 6-1, 6-4

No. 3: Owen Robertson-Sawyer Riffle (Brd) def. Charlie Johnston-Lucas Fernholz 6-3, 4-6, 6-4

Conference: Brd 0-1. Overall: Brd 0-3. Next: Brainerd hosts Duluth East and Fergus Falls 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 18.

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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