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Blake boys' tennis departs Class 1A with one last team title

06/07/2017, 5:34pm CDT
By AARON REISS, Star Tribune

The Bears, who will compete in Class 2A starting next season, clinched their finals match with Virginia when Joe Mairs claimed his team’s fourth singles victory.

Ben Ingbar holds the Class 1A boys’ tennis team championship trophy while his teammate Jack Barker looks at it with Joe Mairs next to him. Photo: Aaron Reiss, Star Tribune

Joe Mairs

When Blake’s Joe Mairs became the fourth member of his team to win his singles match in the Class 1A boys’ tennis team championship Wednesday at Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center, he offered no reaction. No joyous grunt or yell. No clenched fist. No smile.

He had clinched a state title for the powerhouse program, the state’s No. 1 team, which last year suffered a disappointing section loss to Breck. But for there to be much excitement, there needed to be drama, and there was none in Blake’s state title victory. The Bears defeated Virginia 7-0.

“This season we were back, more on top of things, trying to make sure it was a 7-0 win rather a 5-2,” the state’s No. 1 player, Ben Ingbar, said of his team’s focus in an uneven matchup that could have given way to mental lapses.

Ingbar, Mairs and Jack Barker — the state’s top three singles players — didn’t lose a game. The Virginia players, who reached the state finals with a 5-2 victory over St. Paul Academy, seemed to know they were overmatched. In Barker’s match, after some of the points he scored, his opponent shook his head with his eyes open wide.

The doubles matches weren’t much more competitive. The Bears never loosened control of their leads.

None of which is surprising. Blake, which will begin competing in Class 2A next season, went undefeated this season. The team even defeated Minnetonka, the Class 2A team champion, twice in six days.

In the semifinals Wednesday morning, the Bears defeated Rochester Lourdes 6-1. The match the Eagles won was only the seventh that Blake has lost all season.

“We work hard on the little things,” Bears coach Ted Warner said. “There’s no such thing as an easy ball. Treat the ball with respect. Treat your opponent with respect. Really good players make certain shots look easy, but they’re never that easy. We’ve worked hard on that kind of stuff.”


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