SPIRIT LAKE - The Cherokee Braves tennis team clinched a Class 1A Substate berth by winning the 1A District Tournament hosted by Spirit Lake High School here Thursday.
The Braves, 2009 Lakes Conference Champions and owners of a sparkling, record-setting 10-1 match record this season, beat Spencer 23-16 for the District title.
As runner-up, Spencer hosted third-place Storm Lake Saturday in a preliminary Substate team match, with that winner advancing to Substate action this Saturday at Fort Dodge to play District Champion Fort Dodge St. Edmond.
As District Champion, Cherokee will also play at Fort Dodge Saturday in Substate action against the Aplington-Parkersburg and Boone preliminary Substate team winner. The two winning teams will then meet one hour after those semifinal matches Saturday to determine the team advancing to the State Tournament May 29-30 in Waterloo.
Cherokee's Gregor Pritzlaff, the Braves #2 player who was unseeded in the 1A District, upset the field by winning the singles title. Pritzlaff beat Cherokee's top-seeded Cole Egger 6-3, 7-6 (7-6 tiebreaker) in the finals.
Egger drew a first-round bye as the top seed, and then beat Gus Manzanilla of Le Mars 6-0, 6-7 (7-2 tiebreaker), 6-2 in second-round action; and defeated Blake Kliegl of SL-O 6-4, 7-6 (8-6 tiebreaker) in the semifinals to meet Pritzlaff in the finals.
In 1A doubles for Cherokee, Nick Parker and Cole Renken won their first two matches before being eliminated in the semifinals 6-2, 6-4 by Spencer's Taylor Harmon and Drew Jacobsen. Parker/Renken beat Nate Jensen and Matt Hansen of Estherville-LC 6-0, 6-0 in the first round; and defeated Bret Giese and Zach Lancaster of Le Mars 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 in the second round.
Also for Cherokee in doubles, Alex Struck and Jordan Ogren beat Dylan Sievert and Tomo Kimora of E-LC 6-1, 7-5 in the first round; and then lost 6-2, 6-0 to Heelan's Carter Buckmeier and Garen Merritt in the second round.
Storm Lake's top-seeded Taylor Anderson and Carson Anderson won the doubles title with a 6-4, 7-6 win over second-seeded Spencer's Harmon and Jacobson.
The Braves' Parker/Renken beat Heelan's Buckmeier/Merritt 6-4, 6-4 for third place and serve as alternate doubles team if anything would prevent the first- and second-place teams from competing.
Cherokee won the title with 23 points, followed by Spencer 16, Storm Lake 15, Le Mars 9, Spirit Lake-Okoboji 6, Heelan 6, and E-LC 0.
"It was fantastic tennis weather and the level of competition and quality of play matched it perfectly," noted a pleased Cherokee coach Dave Zelle. "It was a long and grueling day, but I could not have asked for more from my players. Everyone contributed points toward our first-ever District Championship.
"We advanced both of our singles players to the finals, where Gregor played a superb match to upend fellow teammate Cole Egger in a hard-fought contest. Having two singles players in the finals and a doubles team place third at Districts is another testimony to the great depth we have in our lineup this year. It's been a great season with a great group of players, and hopefully more good things to come."