Last season ended with a match that rivaled any high school championship match that came before it.
It's also the starting point for this season.
At the top of the Class 2A rankings this week is Edina senior Matthew Fullerton, the defending state singles champion known for mental toughness. No. 2 is Wayzata senior Collin Beduhn, runner-up to Fullerton last season and possessor of perhaps the most devastating weapon in prep tennis, a serve that reaches 130 miles per hour. Or more. "The fastest I was ever clocked was 134," said Beduhn, who stands 6-7.
The two met twice during the high school season in 2022, with Beduhn handing Fullerton his only loss, 6-4, 6-3, during the regular season. Fullerton got a little payback along with the biggest prize of the season with an epic, four-hours-plus, 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 victory over Beduhn in the Class 2A singles championship match.
The match featured the two most accomplished singles players in the state playing at a high level, with enough drama to make a four-hour marathon compelling.
Fullerton battled back from a 5-2 deficit to win the first set. Beduhn fought off three match points in the second and squared the match at a set apiece. At that point, both players dug in.
"After being out there for so long, you're telling yourself, 'You can't lose now,' " Fullerton said.
Both players agree the match was among the most significant ones of their tennis lives.
"I wasn't too disappointed," Beduhn said. "It was a seven-point difference in a four-hour match. And we played such high-quality tennis. It was fun to be a part of it."
Fullerton said the Class 2A final was the catalyst for the "best summer results I've ever had. I played really good in summer tournaments."
For Beduhn, it forced a reassessment of his game.
"I needed to work on my volleys," he said. "I could get to them at the net, but I couldn't put them away. So I put a lot of time in working on them. And on my endurance, in case I ever had to play a match like that again."
Despite playing for rival schools, the two players are close friends and training partners.
"When we're out of season, we pretty much play every day," Fullerton said.
Said Beduhn: "He's such a strong player. He's got all the shots and a great mental game. And he always gives 110 percent. He makes me a tougher player."
Soon they'll be most than just respectful rivals. They'll be teammates. Both are committed to playing college tennis at Wisconsin.
Until then they see each other not only as friends but as their most respected competition.
"I want to give my best every time I play him, and I want to beat him. And I know he feels the same about me," Bebuhn said. "But it's really a rivalry that stems from friendship and respect. It's a perfect situation, having a player like him in Minnesota."
They square off for the first time this season — but most likely not the last — on Tuesday in a dual match between Lake Conference rivals Wayzata and Edina at Edina's home courts at Creek Valley Elementary.
Five and five
Five metro teams and five metro players to keep an eye on:
1. Edina (2A): The Hornets lineup is deep and talented, led by Fullerton and fellow captain Nolan Ranger.
2. Wayzata (2A): Three Beduhn brothers — Collin, sophomore Aaron and eighth-grader Nolan — pace the Trojans.
3. Orono (2A): Last year's large-school team champ has some holes to fill at the top, but depth is strong.
4. Mounds View (2A): A consistent top-five program has some questions to answer up top.
5. St. Paul Academy (1A): The 2022 team champion looks primed to repeat.
1. Matthew Fullerton, Edina, senior (2A): Defending state singles champ has all the shots, is never flustered. College: Wisconsin
2. Collin Beduhn, Wayzata, senior (2A): At 6-7 with a power game, he's the most imposing player in the state. College: Wisconsin
3. Ashton Adesoro, St. Paul Harding, senior (2A): State semifinalist in 2022, No. 5 in USTA Northern Region 18-U rankings. College: Western Michigan
4. Evan Fraser, Mounds Park Academy, senior (1A): Attends Nova Classical, a co-op with MPA, and is seeking to become the first repeat Class 1A singles champ since 2015. College: undecided
5. Nolan Ranger, Edina, senior (2A): Southpaw makes up half of a formidable 1-2 punch at Edina. College: Penn State