By Jim Rueda
Free Press Staff Writer
Mankato East junior Mason Bultje is turning some heads in the Big Nine Conference this season as one of the top singles players in southern Minnesota. He has built an 8-0 record, including victories against Big Nine standouts Jason Howard of Rochester John Marshall and Michael Poeschla of Rochester Mayo.
“I’m going to try to win the Big Nine this year,” Bultje said. “I’ve beaten two of the top three guys in the conference already and I’ll play another good one (in Nathan Huber) from St. Peter later on, too. Those are all good measuring sticks for me.”
“I’d like to win the section and go to state,” he said. “I’m mentally tougher than I was last season. All those lessons I learned starting as a seventh-grader and an eighth-grader are starting to pay off.
East/Loyola head coach Paul Williams said Bultje has a right to be playing with confidence.
“Bill Leitch from West is going to give him a good match and, if he gets deep into the section meet he’ll probably see the two kids from Shakopee and Minnetonka. They’re both good players, too.”
On Monday, Bultje’s teammates in singles were also pretty dominant. Dominic Cannella was a 6-3, 6-1 winner at the No. 2 spot, Chris Liu won 6-1, 6-1 at No. 3 and Kameron Saiki won 6-0. 6-1 at No. 4.
At first doubles, New Ulm’s Isaiah Johnson and Nick Gartner downed Griffin Bib and Brendan Loayza 6-3, 6-4.