In the past year, Blake senior Charlie Adams has dealt with a string of injuries and illness.
This past winter he had mononucleosis. In March, Adams pulled his hip in a tournament semifinal match that forced him to retire during the final. Last July he sprained his left wrist.
But playing with no apparent hindrance on Friday, Adams captured his third consecutive singles title in the Class 1A tennis state tournament, defeating teammate Ben Ingbar 6-0, 6-1 at the Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center in south Minneapolis.
Adams dominated from the start, winning the first point after it reached deuce, and then quickly extended the lead to 2-0. Ingbar hit a beautiful return on a cut shot to take a 30-15 lead, but eventually lost the third point. Ingbar then hit two serves into net to seal Adams’ fourth point.
In the fifth, Ingbar scored a point when Adams tried to play him at the net. But Adams went on to win the point and take a 5-0 lead. A few minutes later Adams let out a thunderous “What!” after winning the set 6-0.
Ingbar won a game in the second set, but Adams didn’t let up.
After the teammates won their individual semifinal matches in the morning, Blake coach Ted Warner said throughout the tournament he’d been telling Adams and Ingbar strategies they could use against one another. But during the match, there was no coaching.
“I would look at Ben and say, ‘This is a pattern that you would need against Charlie,’ ” Warner said. “I would look at Charlie and say, ‘I’m telling you this now because if you get there, I’m done (coaching).’ ”
Also before the match, Warner reflected on Adams’ leadership and toughness.
“A lot of times you see how hard it is for guys to repeat once, much less three years in a row,” Warner said. With the injury and illness, “(Charlie) worked hard to get back in shape, and people wouldn’t know about it (unless someone told them). He’s gotten progressively better.”
Warner said Adams won matches at the beginning of the year just because he refused to lose.
“He just guts it out,” Warner said.
As Adams’ legs came back, so did his play. Warner said Adams’ serve has done much better since the beginning of the season, and his cross-court hits are more “penetrating” and “have more on them.”
Warner mentioned that when Adams’ singles matches at Blake ended downstairs, he would tell his teammates they had to quickly go upstairs to watch doubles.
“I’ve never had a kid that’s more about the team than he is,” Warner said. “… He thrives on the aspect of the group and the team and being a part of helping others. He’s loved that from day one. And I think that also helps with the pressure on him.”
Blake also reigned champion in the doubles state final match. Tiernan Foster-Smith and Jack Barker, a pairing Warner put together at the end of the regular season, defeated Mounds Park’s Duncan Hart and Vlad Hugec, 6-4, 6-0.
“They kind of struggled to get a feel for each other at regionals, but they’ve played much better here at states, so I’m very happy for them,” Warner said before the final match.
Adams reached the singles final by defeating Winona Cotter’s Ryan Ortega, 6-1, 6-0. Ingbar reached the final with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Foley’s Zach Kantor. Ingbar won the first set 6-4, but fell behind 4-2 in the second before reeling off four consecutive points to win 6-4.
Tiernan Foster-Smith and Barker won 6-4, 6-4, over Breck’s Austin Wong and Lewis White in the doubles semifinal.