The Braves qualified for the Substate competition after winning the District at Spirit Lake May 21, defeating Spencer in the finals. St. Edmond beat Spencer 5-4 in Saturday's semifinals here while Cherokee was taking out Aplington-Parkersburg. St. Edmond now advances to the State Team Competition in Waterloo on Tuesday.
Cherokee's #1 and #2 singles players compete this weekend in the State Tennis Meet in Waterloo, with Gregor Pritzlaff playing #1 and Cole Egger #2. Pritzlaff beat Egger in the championship match in Districts after Egger played at #1 all season for the Braves historic 2009 campaign.
Cherokee won four singles matches and the #2 doubles match to end the semifinal tussle against Aplington-Parkersburg here Saturday. The first to five wins declared the immediate winner, the #3 doubles match was in progress when Cherokee's #2 doubles team of Cole Renken and Nick Parker beat A-P's Alec Thompson and Coy Wiegmann 7-5, 6-4 to clinch the match at 5-3.
Pritzlaff and Egger lost 5-7, 4-6 to Luhring and Price at #1 doubles, before Renken and Parker saved the day. The #3 Struck and Ogren doubles match was in progress when the win at #2 sealed the deal.
The Braves managed to win just two matches against the pumped St. Edmond team in the finals spurred on by a raucus, energetic home crowd - a perplexing, unfair advantage in State Tournament tennis.
In singles action, Pritzlaff beat Bryan Huss 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 at #1; Egger lost 6-4, 4-6, 2-6 to Michael Hancock at #2; Renken lost 6-2, 5-7, 4-6 to John Engler at #3; Parker beat Connor Mulholland 0-6, 6-2, 6-4 at #4; Struck lost 2-6, 2-6 to Zach Baldwin at #5; and Ogren lost 1-6, 4-6 to Evan Eide at #6.
In doubles, Struck and Ogren lost 1-6, 1-6 to Hancock and Eide at #3 to end the match at 5-2, with #1 and #2 doubles matches still in progress.
"It was an extremely long day, extended by a morning rain delay, but turned out to be a beautiful day for tennis," said Cherokee coach Dave Zelle. The first meet was against a tough Aplington-Parkersburg team.
"The real heroes of this meet were Struck and Ogren, who regrouped after first-set losses to pull out third-set wins. Ogren's lot looked especially bleak after dropping the first set 6-1, but he figured out that a bit of composure and consistency could still make good things happen, as he finished out to give us four singles wins heading into doubles play. Then Parker and Renken sealed the victory at #2 doubles.
"The second meet against St. Edmond we knew would be tough. They return four varsity players from last year, including their top three, and have some excellent athletes. They were beatable, but we needed to play our best to make it happen. The bright spot was Parker's performance at #4. He regrouped from a staggering 6-0 first set to play probably his best two sets ever to storm back and win his match convincingly.
"It was disappointing to be so close to making it into the top four teams in the State Tournament, but the guys can look back on an oustanding 11-2 season as Lakes Conference and District Champions. We have good depth and skill returning for next year, but the crucial element is how much time and work they put in on the courts this summer. We lose our top two players, so the kids need to work hard at improving to step up and fill those shoes."