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Boys Tennis: East Ridge ends its season in sectional finals

The East Ridge Raptors boys tennis team fell to Eastview in the 3AA sectional final on Wednesday with a 4-3 final score. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
Senior co-captain Elias Ramirez eyes the tennis ball as he prepares his shot at No. 1 singles. East Ridge would later lose to Eastview in the 3AA sectional finals. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 3
Senior co-captain Subbarao Garlapati connects on a tennis ball during his No. 2 doubles match. The East Ridge Raptors would lose to Eastview in the 3AA sectional finals. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

LAKEVILLE—As Eastview players and coaches ran together to celebrate, the East Ridge boys tennis team saw the end of their season come to a close.

After a 16-4 regular season and a win against South Saint Paul and Eagan in the 3AA sectional tournament, the Raptors came up a little short with a 4-3 final against Eastview. Even though the season is done, the memories and moments throughout this season will be cherished not only by head coach Suzie Heideman, but every player on this team.

"Our boys played 100 percent today and put everything out on the court," Heideman said. "It just wasn't the outcome we wanted, but we got to hand it to Eastview for a great match."

Before the match started, East Ridge and Eastview exchanged its lineup cards. Heideman said once she received Eastview's lineup, she knew it was going to be tough for her doubles pairings.

Eastview focused their attention on creating three dominant doubles pairings and having Gavin Young, the No. 1 singles player, the solid singles player to earn that fourth victory. That strategy went perfect as all three of the doubles were swept by Eastview and Young defeated Elias Ramirez to earn the fourth point.

The Raptors took the victory in every singles match except No. 1 singles to earn the three points. The goal this season for the seniors leading the team and the entire Raptors team was to make another run to the state championship, but even though East Ridge wasn't able to make that run, Heideman is proud of all the accomplishments individuals and the team have had this season.

"There were a lot of upsets throughout the season that I'll remember for a long time," said senior co-captain Subbarao Garlapati. "This has been a great team and I will cherish this season for a long time in the future."

Heideman said that this East Ridge team not only showed strong skills on the tennis court, but off the court as well. Many of these players made honor rolls and all five seniors will be heading to college to play on various levels of tennis teams.

Garlapati said he's going to miss the bus trips to and from matches every week as well as the practices and dinners with the team on various occasions. That was the time this team connected the most in his eyes.

"We are probably one of the nicest teams in the state," Heideman said. "We're honest, we're respectful to any team that we play and those are the takeaways that I see at the end of the season."

That has been the standard for East Ridge tennis is to play with that respect and that's one trait Ramirez hopes to pass down to the returning players as senior co-captain this season. He knows the future is bright with this team and especially next season.

Even though five seniors will be graduating this spring, Ramirez expects the tradition of winning and playing with 100 percent to stay with the team. That mindset will lead to more state tournament appearances and, eventually, winning a state title.

It's going to take a day or two for the team to get over the loss, but they will need to focus once again on Friday. For the majority of the East Ridge team, their team season might be over but their individual seasons continue onto Friday for the sectional tournament for individuals and doubles pairings.

For the doubles, Garlapati and Eli van der Sman will be paired as the No. 8 seed in the tournament, while Caleb and Luke Fridinger will be paired up and the No. 3 seed. Throughout the sectional tournament for the team, the Fridinger brothers played as singles at the No. 2 and 3 spots.

In the singles tournament, the Raptors will have Sujay Garlapati and Ramirez competing for the school. Sujay Garlapati has been competing at No. 1 doubles for the sectional tournament, while Ramirez has been the No. 1 singles player this season. Ramirez is the No. 3 seed in the tournament.

These singles and doubles tournaments take place at Lifetime Fitness in Lakeville, Minnesota, starting at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Friday.

The season may be over for the team, but Heideman said she loves the game of tennis for one particular reason.

"You can make a lot of mistakes and fight back in the next game," Heideman said. "Tennis is a great sport because you don't have to be perfect all the time. There's opportunities to fight back and win points."

Brian Mozey

I am the sports writer for the Woodbury Bulletin and South Washington County Bulletin. I'm a graduate from the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Iowa State University and have always had a passion for sports since a young age. Whether it was watching or playing sports, I always knew sports would be in my career. I've been born and raised in the suburbs of Minneapolis and look forward to continuing to learn more about the Woodbury and Cottage Grove area throughout my time in this position. 

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