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East Ridge boys tennis: ‘Great way to start our season’ for Raptors

The East Ridge boys tennis team started the year on the right foot.

East Ridge opened the 2014 season 2-0 in its first two matches, including a Suburban East Conference win over Park.

Through two matches, East Ridge has yet to lose a set.

The Raptors started the year with a 7-0 non-conference win over Section 3AA foe St. Thomas Academy on Wednesday, April 9, at East Ridge High School, then took down SEC rival Park 7-0 on Thursday, April 10, at Park High School.

In the win over St. Thomas, freshman Anuraag Bukkuri won 6-1, 6-2 at No. 1 singles, junior Vishaal Gupta won 6-3, 6-0 at No. 2 singles, freshman Ben Van der Sman won 6-0, 6-2 at third singles and sophomore Nikhil Gupta won 6-3, 6-1 at fourth singles.

In doubles play, senior Greg Sharrow and junior Riley Pratt won 6-0, 6-1 at No. 1 dubs, seniors Zak Nigatu and Phillip Cai won 6-0, 6-1 at second doubles and senior Aaron Christianson and freshman Evan Fridinger won 7-5, 6-3 at third doubles.

“It was a great way to start our season with everyone returning from the 2013 team, plus four new additions,” East Ridge head coach Suzie Heideman said. “ After a couple weeks I’ve decided to keep 15 on varsity, as they all push each other, and are deserving of playing varsity matches. This was a solid win.”

At Park, Bukkuri defeated junior Mekdim Dejene 6-1, 6-3 at No. 1 singles, Sharrow won 6-1, 6-4 at second singles, Nikhil Gupta won 6-2, 6-2 at third singles and Pratt won 6-1, 6-2 at fourth singles. Zak Nigatu and Vishaal Gupta teamed up at No. 1 doubles to win 6-0, 6-0, while Van der Sman and Cai won 6-0, 6-0 at second singles and senior Tim Holzinger and junior Hanting Guo won 6-7, 6-4, 10-3 at third doubles.

“We switched the lineup a bit from the previous day,” Heideman said. “One of the goals is to get more players playing both singles and doubles matches. Playing doubles gets you a lot of net and volley shots, as well as pumping up a teammate during a match. And playing singles gives you every ball, and more serves and lets you figure things out on your own. With a lot of matches, it’ll be nice to have the flexibility of switching where players are playing.”

East Ridge took on Roseville on Tuesday, April 15, after the Bulletin went to print. The Raptors travel to Irondale on Wednesday, April 16 and to Stillwater on Thursday, April 17.

“We’ve got great competition within our team, which should help the players take their games to the next level,” Heideman said. “We’re excited for a great season.”

—Patrick Johnson

Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson has been the South Washington County Bulletin’s sports editor since 2008. He reports on and oversees coverage of high school and amateur sports in south Washington County and Woodbury. Prior to joining the Bulletin, Johnson worked for other Twin Cities suburban newspapers. He is a University of Minnesota graduate.
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