The Mounds View boys’ tennis team may not have the strongest singles lineup, but that won’t stop it from contending for a state title.
The Mustangs swept all doubles matches at Saturday’s Edina Invitational to win the tournament. They defeated Mahtomedi 7-0, Edina 6-1 and defending Class 2A champion Wayzata 5-2.
The Edina Invitational has traditionally brought the state’s top teams together in what amounts to a preview of the state tournament.
“It’s really gratifying for us to have a big day like this,” Mounds View coach Michael Cartwright said. “It’s tough to play three matches in a day.”
After the convincing victories against Mahtomedi and Edina, the Mustangs found themselves in a dogfight against Wayzata. The Trojans dominated the top two singles matches and pushed each doubles match to a 10-point tiebreaker, played instead of the traditional third set.
Mounds View won the tiebreakers 10-7, 10-8 and 10-7.
Cartwright said the Mustangs have been cultivating a doubles culture in the past couple of years. It’s a risky approach because a team needs at least one singles victory to win a match.
But the approach paid off Saturday, as Mounds View won all six matches at No. 3 and No. 4 singles.
“If [the doubles pairs] don’t win, that puts a lot of pressure on singles,” sophomore Jake Trondson said. “We have a decent singles lineup, but doubles is definitely the strong point of this team.”
In singles, a little strategy went a long way for the Mustangs.
Cartwright rested Trondson and No. 4 singles player Abe Alex in the first round by pairing them at No. 2 doubles. The rest helped Trondson and Alex play some of their best tennis in the semifinals and final, as they dropped only 12 games combined.
Some early luck also aided the Mustangs.
Edina beat Maple Grove, the Mustangs’ nemesis in Section 5AA, in the first round, which spared Mounds View a tricky second-round matchup. The Mustangs caught another break against Edina when Max Olson, a semifinalist at state last year, retired at No. 1 singles after winning the first set against CJ Lloyd.
Mounds View lost to Maple Grove 4-3 earlier this season, and Cartwright said he’s still concerned about his team’s ability to win a singles match against the Crimson.
But in doubles, the Mustangs are the team to beat, and that puts plenty of pressure on opponents.
“I think our team has the capability to beat any team in the state,” junior Carter Jones said. “I think we proved in this tournament that we can compete with anybody.”