The Class 1A boys' singles tennis final is today. But there's a good chance the match of the tournament was played Thursday morning during rush hour.
Top-ranked Bryan Kelly of Mounds Park Academy outlasted Brian Ward of Litchfield 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 in a 2½-hour first-round match that started at 8 a.m. at Lifetime Fitness in Burnsville. Ward was ranked No. 2 in the final coaches poll.
"I never had played him before, so I was a little surprised," said Kelly, who won the consolation title in last year's state tournament (Ward was fourth). "He's definitely a good player."
Kelly came back a short time later to beat Will Hancock of Blake 6-1, 6-3 to advance to today's semifinals.
"That was probably the championship match," Mounds Park Academy coach Michelle Olson said following the first-round matchup. "It's unfortunate for the other kid."
Kelly (26-1) wanted to get off to a fast start in the third and deciding set, and the senior did just that. He broke Ward's service in the first game and again leading 4-2.
"I knew if I broke him I was in pretty good shape," Kelly said. "It's pretty tough for people to break me, especially in the third set."
Kelly is trying to join his younger sister, Brenna, as state champion. Brenna, a freshman, won the girls' singles title in the fall with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Brittany Faber of Breck.
"I think it would be cool if we both won state championships," Brenna said. "I think it would be a great achievement for both of us."
Looking to repeat
Defending Class 2A singles champion Michael Sicora of Buffalo cruised through his two matches at Lifetime Fitness in Bloomington.
Sicora beat Matt Schull of Henry Sibley 6-1, 6-2 and Stefan Voigt of Red Wing 6-2, 6-3 to set up a semifinal showdown with Mounds View eighth-grader Wyatt McCoy. McCoy also won both of his matches in straight sets.
"As opposed to last year, when I wasn't expected to win, I didn't have to live up to anything," Sicora said. "This year, I've been ranked No. 1 the whole season and I have to deal with that."
Cole Patterson of Rochester Mayo was the only player who had a chance to win back-to-back doubles championships.
After an opening-round victory, though, Patterson and Jeremy Edwards fell to Edina sophomores Noah Swiler and Steven Pjevach 6-3, 6-3 in the Class 2A quarterfinals. Patterson won last year's crown with Philip Loprinzi.
The Tri-Metro Conference gained all four doubles spots in the Class 1A semifinals. Two of the tandems -- Pierce Norton and John Hill, and Michael Halvorson and Spencer McMillan -- are from team champion St. Paul Academy.