Alexandria cruises in quarters over Detroit Lakes, sets up semifinal rubber match against St. Cloud Tech

Alexandria wins 6-1 over Detroit Lakes on Wednesday afternoon to advance to the Section 8-2A semifinals next week.

Andrew Wegner stretches for a backhand return in the first set his match at No. 2 doubles. Alexandria beat Detroit Lakes 6-1 to advance to the semifinal round of the Section 8AA tournament next Wednesday. Alexandria will play against St. Cloud Tech for the third time this season. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

The Alexandria boys tennis team did what it’s done all year on Wednesday, and that’s take care of business against an opponent it should beat.

The Cardinals, who are the top seed in the North half of the Section 8-2A tournament, won all four singles matches en route to a 6-1 victory over fourth-seeded Detroit Lakes.

“We felt like we were a little rusty,” Alexandria head coach Dave Ronning said. “It’s been about a week since we’ve played. DL is solid. They have solid players across the board. It’s a good win.”

Senior Gannon Lueck won a competitive No. 2 singles match, one in which he trailed by three games in the second set. His resiliency has shined all year in the eyes of his coaches and teammates.


Pieter Mulder hits a strong forehand shot in his No. 1 doubles win with Owen Gilbertson. Alexandria advanced to the semifinal round with a 6-1 win over Detroit Lakes on May 26, 2021. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

“As long as you don’t quit and keep fighting, good things happen,” Ronning said. “He figured some things out. He had a good strategy with his short balls.”

Senior Jacob Partington has taken on the challenge of playing in the No. 1 singles spot throughout the year, and in one of his last matches on his home court, he got the job done 6-1, 6-3.

“They played us a little tougher than we were expecting,” Partington said. “It was good for us to shake the rust off before we get Tech next week. I know a lot of us are really excited to play them again after the last time we played them.”

Ronning is no stranger to shaking up the lineup. Lueck can play both singles and doubles, and he showed his versatility with a singles win over the Lakers.

Jacob Partington jumps for a backhand shot in his two-set win at No. 1 singles. Alexandria beat Detroit Lakes 6-1 in the Section 8A quarterfinal round on May 26, 2021. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

“We looked at what (Detroit Lakes) has and what their strengths are,” Ronning said. “We knew their singles lineup was solid all of the way through. Whenever we play a solid singles lineup, we try to put our better players there. That means our doubles are usually a little weaker. We figured we’d be just fine without those big guns in doubles.”


Aaron Jost was also dominant in a straight-set win at No. 4 singles.

“He’s strong and confident,“ Ronning said. “He goes out there, says what he’s going to do and does it.”

Several members of the 2019 section championship team came back to watch Alexandria take down Detroit Lakes on Wednesday afternoon. It’s a group that helped set a new tone for the culture of this program.

“Expectations are way higher than what they used to be,” Partington said. “It used to be a big deal to make it to sections. Now it’s a letdown. We’re not cocky or anything, but we go into every match thinking we are going to win. We don’t expect anything less than going to the state tournament this year. There are great teams in our section, and we aren’t looking past anybody at all.”

Landon Schabel jumps for a backhand shot in his two-set No. 3 singles win in Alexandria's 6-1 victory over Detroit Lakes in the Section 8A quarterfinal round on May 26, 2021. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

Alexandria’s quarterfinal win sets up the third meeting against the South's second-seeded St. Cloud Tech, which handled Monticello in its quarterfinal matchup. After beating the Tigers 4-3 at home on Apr. 20, Tech handed the Cardinals their first loss of the season on May 11 by a score of 6-1.

“It was embarrassing for us the last time we played them,” Partington said. “Everybody knows that. We didn’t play well, and they were really good. Kudos to them for giving us what we deserved that day. I think when we’re both playing our best games, it could be the best match of the tournament.”


Ronning believes his team’s mental game needs to be better to get a second win over Tech.

“Our guys just have to buy into having confidence,” Ronning said. “When we beat them here, we were confident. When they beat us down there, we weren’t. Our confidence was lacking. We’ll be fine as long as we stay confident.”

Gannon Lueck returns a shot in the No. 2 singles match during Alexandria's 6-1 Section 8AA quarterfinal win over Detroit Lakes on May 26, 2021. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

The winner of Wednesday’s match at noon in either Sartell or St. Cloud will likely get the winner of Bemidji and Becker, the other high seeds. Having been there and done that before, Partington is hoping to recreate some magic and bring home a second consecutive section title.

“Breath by breath, point by point and shot by shot,” Partington said. “Having these guys around you out there is really encouraging. We’re all working towards the same goal. We can’t get ahead of ourselves. If we focus on what’s in front of us and play our game, we have a really good shot.”

Aaron Jost returns a shot in the No. 4 singles match on May 26, 2021. Jost won in two sets in Alexandria's 6-1 Section 8AA quarterfinal win over Detroit Lakes. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)


Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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