The first set in the Class 1A boys’ tennis singles championship looked destined for a tiebreaker.
That’s how close the play was between Blake teammates Jack Barker and freshman Joe Mairs on Friday at Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center in south Minneapolis. They held serve until the top-seeded Barker won a break to go up 5-4. It was a game after No. 2-seed Mairs couldn’t convert his own break for a 5-3 lead.
Barker won the match 6-4, 6-2, following his runner-up finish last year as a sophomore and a doubles title in 2015.
“I knew that over time if I just kept going, and I just kept playing my best, hopefully he would eventually wear out,” Barker said. “Then luckily I got that break, and then I just kept my focus.”
Those 4-3 and 4-4 games were the swing of the match, Blake coach Ted Warner said.
“Jack is just so level and even-keeled,” Warner said.
Barker’s serve was strong throughout the match. Mairs, a freshman, said afterward that he struggled to find the early rhythm with his return game.
Mairs said he loves competing against a teammate and it makes for a better match.
“You know exactly what they’re going to do pretty much on every shot,” Mairs said.
Barker, meanwhile, said playing a teammate with the “friendly rivalry” is often harder.
“As I say, that match when it ends, it ends,” Warner said. “I said, ‘Your friendship stays forever.’ ”
Blake senior doubles up
Blake senior Ben Ingbar won his second doubles title, teaming with sophomore Christopher Hall for a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Breck freshmen Matthew Metz and Thomas Metz. Ingbar, a doubles champ in 2014, defeated Barker in singles last year. Ranked No. 1 in singles this year, he decided to play doubles at state.
“I just wanted to enjoy the last two days,” Ingbar said. “I thought doubles would be a little bit more fun.”
Blake will compete in tennis against larger schools in Class 2A starting next season.