It’s another trip to the MSHSL State Class AA tennis tournament for the Becker Bulldogs, as the tennis squad downed Sartell and St. Cloud en route to the Section 8AA title.
The team will participate in their second straight big dance on June 6 against an opponent TBA.
“We are 21-1, back to back section 8AA Champions!” Coach Hokan Bengtson said after the championship match. “It was so fun to watch our kids compete and play well. Our top players played their very best when we needed them most — that was so impressive.”
In the championship match against St. Could, Becker broke open a close match to pick up the 5-2 win.
“We won #1 and #2 doubles pretty quickly, but then St. Cloud won #4 singles and #3 doubles at about the same time,” Bengtson said. “Then Ryan (Bengtson) won his match at #2 singles which left two matches still playing — Troy (Nuest) and Zach (Bengtson).”
A scoring recap of those matches showed that the #1 doubles team of Landon Peterson/Eli Scheideman won 6-0, 6-1, while the #2 team of Nick Gruber/Sawyer Brown won 6-3, 6-2.
Ryan Bengtson then won 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 to give Becker the 3-2 advantage. His win was a decisive one for the Bulldogs and after the match he was elated with the state tournament berth.
“To make it to the state tournament as a team really is a huge honor... it just shows how much work was put in by every guy and how much our practice has paid off,” Ryan said. “Our focus has been to get as much out of every practice as we can. My dad (Coach Hokan) has taught us so much this season and he kept us focused and on the path to greatness so he definitely deserves a shout out!”
Ninth-grader Nuest won his match 6-3, 7-5 in a classic battle against a St. Cloud senior in the match that sealed the trip to state.
“Troy’s match was back and forth - he really was strategic and chose smart shots over and over in a great battle with a senior player from St. Cloud, that ended up being the clinching point,” Bengtson said. “Zach had just started his third set when Troy won, but his win was the icing on the cake. Zach had never beaten the #1 player from St. Cloud and it was a great 3 set battle as well!”
Bengtson won his #1 singles battle 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, dominating down the stretch to push the Becker set total to five wins.
Becker defeated Sartell earlier the same day in the Section semifinals match, 7-0.
“In the semi-finals we played really well and stayed focused the entire time, sweeping Sartell in straight sets at all seven positions,” Bengtson said.
In the win over the Sabres, the Bengtson boys each won their singles matches in straight 6-0 sets, while Nuest picked up a 6-1, 7-5 win. Adler Herdina won 6-4, 6-1 to close out the singles scoring.
In doubles play, Peterson/Scheideman won 6-0, 6-1, followed by a 6-1, 6-2 win from Gruber/Brown. Garett Lane/Max Haugen finished the sweep with a 7-5, 6-3 win.
Monday, the individual South Sub-section tournament started in Becker and the Bulldogs racked up the wins.
Zach Bengtson beat the #1 players from Sauk Rapids-Rice, Monticello and St. Cloud to earn the #1 seed heading into Thursday’s (May25) Section Tourney, while Nuest also battled through the matches to earn a trip to the finals as the #4 seed.
Ryan Bengtson and Scheideman played great tennis, beating the #1 team from Willmar, the #2 team from Becker and then the #1 team from St. Cloud to earn the #1 seed in section doubles play.
Becker’s #2 team of Gruber and Haugen was also spectacular, downing both of Monticello’s doubles team to earn the #3 seed in the tournament (only loss was to Becker #1).
Complete results from the Section individual tournament will be found in next week’s Patriot.