Lenka Zelinska was stressed.
It wasn’t from the larger-than-normal crowd watching her No. 1 singles match Friday at Brainerd High School.
It was from her opponent — Riley Bates.
In the first match between the two, Bates rebounded from a first-set loss to beat Zelinska 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 on April 27.
This time it was Zelinska’s turn to start slow and then heat up. The female foreign exchange student topped Bates 0-6, 6-4, 6-3 in Brainerd’s 4-3 loss to St. Cloud Tech.
“I feel real good now after this match,” said Zelinska. “I was real stressed before the match. I don’t know why because I’m used to playing a lot of matches and stuff, but I was surprised at how stressed I was before today. I feel really good now.”
She said she simply played bad in her first set, but then found her stroke and her strategy in the next two sets.
“I was trying to play my game and it was getting better as the match went on,” said Zelinska. “I was trying to keep the ball in the game more. I was trying to get the ball to his backhand.”
Warrior head coach Bruce Thompson called Bates one of the top players in Section 8-2A so Friday’s win was an eye-opener.
“I don’t think I’ve seen this many people sitting up on the hill to watch this match,” said Warriors head coach Bruce Thompson. “It was a great day for tennis and we competed well.”
Brainerd’s No. 1 doubles team of Gunnar Askegaard-Trent Anderson also battled back from a first-set loss to win the next two sets 6-2, 7-6 (7-4).
“I think we were a lot more aggressive going into the second set,” said Anderson. “We decided we were going to play big and take the net even harder. I think that was the key.”
The pair fell 6-7 (0-7) in the first set to Luke Zwiener-Dan Schnettler. It was the same Tech doubles team Askegaard and Reno Fussy lost to earlier in the year in three sets.
The duo of Anderson-Askegaard finished the week 4-0, but for Askegaard Friday’s win was a bit more meaningful than the rest.
“It’s really important to get a win in a match like this because it shows that these guys are beatable,” Askegaard said. “For so many years we feel that Tech puts out the best teams, but just playing hard like this and playing to win shows that we can go far in the section tournament if we play well enough.”
Ryan Bell was Brainerd’s third point. He defeated Brady Roden 7-5, 7-5 at No. 4 singles.
The No. 2 doubles team almost rebounded from a first-set loss. Fussy was paired with DJ Kraemer for the first time and it was Kraemer’s first time playing doubles this season. The two found their game in the second set with a 6-4 win before falling in the third 6-3.
“Last time we saw Tech we had three three-setters that we lost and they beat us 5-2,” said Thompson. “Tech is a good team and we’re a good team. We knew it was going to be tight today. We moved our lineup around a little bit and our kids came to play. We played some great points today. Our kids played hard at every position. Our guys really came to compete today.”
The Warriors’ junior varsity also competed against Tech Friday.
Winning in doubles were: Jordan Kleist-Ben Hanson, Dan Larson-Gus Askegaard, Isaac Nadeau-Brendan Hermerding and Joey Houston-Kyle Johnson
St. Cloud Tech 4, Brainerd 3
No. 1: Lenka Zelinska (Brd) def. Riley Bates 0-6, 6-4, 6-3
No. 2: Chris Mavetz (Tech) def. Bobby Posch 6-1, 6-4
No. 3: Riley Peterson (Tech) def. Luke Jacobsen 6-0, 6-4
No. 4: Ryan Bell (Brd) def. Brady Roden 7-5, 7-5
No. 1: Gunnar Askegaard-Trent Anderson (Brd) def. Luke Zwiener-Dan Schnettler 6-7 (0-7), 6-2, 7-6 (7-4)
No. 2: Alex Matchinsky-Wyatt Pauley (Tech) def. DJ Kraemer-Reno Fussy 6-2, 4-6, 6-3
No. 3: Andy Foley-Jay Kedrowski (Tech) def. Parker Sundquist-Ben Anderholm 7-6, (8-6), 6-2