Orono’s Conner Olsen and Blake’s Jack Barker are familiar opponents on the tennis court, so it wasn’t surprising that their quarterfinal match in the Class 2A boys’ tennis state tournament on Thursday lasted 3 ½ hours.
The match at Baseline Tennis Center at the University of Minnesota went back and forth until Olsen prevailed 5-7, 7-5, 7-5.
Reaching a third-set tiebreaker is nothing when the two seniors play each other.
“Almost all my matches with Barker go the distance like this,” Olsen said. “Last time, he got the best of me in the regular season in straight sets. I just wanted to come into the match fighting. My mind was always never give up and believe in yourself. ”
The unseeded Olsen took the first three points of the third set, but Barker, the tournament’s No. 2 seed, eventually rallied for three consecutive points to tie it at 5-5. Barker began cramping up and was forced to use his medical timeout.
Barker trailed most of the first set but overtook Olsen in the tiebreaker. He continued the momentum until Olsen started cramping up. He used his medical timeout midway through the second set while down a couple points.
After a trainer stretched out his legs, Olsen went on a roll to come back for the second-set victory. After every point for the rest of the match, Olsen was stretched out, allowing him to continue.
Olsen earned a rematch in the semifinals Friday with third-seeded Maxim Zagrebelny of Eagan, who defeated him in the quarterfinals last year.
“We’re good buddies,” Olsen said. “We train together in the offseason. We both know each other’s game really well. I’m looking forward to the battle.”
Zagrebelny advanced by defeating Bjorn Swenson of Mounds View 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.
“He kept me moving back and forth [in the first set],” Zagrebelny said. “In the second, I adjusted and didn’t give him the opportunity to move me.”
In the other semifinal, top-seeded Sebastian Vile of Rochester Mayo will face No. 4 seed Nick Aney of Rochester Century. Vile defeated Tanner Lundberg of Brainerd 6-2, 6-0. Aney beat Gavin Young of Eastview 6-2, 3-6, 6-0.
The top three seeds advanced to the semifinals Friday at Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center. Parker Law, a junior from Mounds Park Academy and the No. 1 seed, will face Rafat Solaiman of St. Peter. The other match pits No. 2 seed Drew Elofson of St. Peter senior against third-seeded David D. Bush of Duluth Denfeld.