The Free Press, Mankato, MN

May 2, 2013

East/Loyola tennis edges West 4-3

By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor

MANKATO — Mankato East/Loyola freshman Dominic Cannella has just one loss this spring, and as the season begins to wind down, he appears to be in top form.

Cannella took on an improved Dan Berry from Mankato West at No. 2 singles Thursday and came away with a 6-1, 6-1 victory. His effort helped the Cougars edge the Scarlets 4-3 in a Big Nine Conference meet at the East courts.

“I feel like I’ve played pretty well this year,” Cannella said. “There’s always room for improvement, but I’ve stuck to my game plan of being aggressive and staying confident.”

Against Berry, Cannella proved to be just a little more consistent with his ground strokes, and that was the major difference.

“Dan’s a fine competitor so that was a good win for me,” Cannella said. “My forehand was working well today. I was able to get a lot of my first serves in, and that set up the forehand.”

Thursday’s pivotal match probably came at No. 4 singles where East/Loyola sophomore Kameron Saiki took on 10th-grader David Pietsch. Since the Cougars have proved to be strong in the first three singles spots but have struggled in doubles, Saiki’s outcome often decides the meet.

It was no different Thursday as Saiki downed Pietsch 6-1, 6-3, enabling East/Loyola to earn the one-point win.

In a match that featured two of the better singles player in southern Minnesota, West’s Bill Leitch took on Mason Bultje at first singles. Bultje was in top form and delivered a 6-0, 6-2 victory.

Chris Liu had the other East/Loyola win, downing John Kurtz at third singles 6-2, 6-0.

West won the second and third doubles matches as Calvin Miller and Kyle Sandman downed Ahmed Sugulle and Cody Shetka 6-3, 6-2, and Mike Fedder and Brady Schmit defeated Brandon Slonicker and Josh Ouyang 7-5, 6-0.

The most competitive match of the day came at first doubles. That’s where West’s Mike Mir and Isaiah Stock edged Griffin Bibbs and Brendan Loayza 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.

Both teams are off this weekend. On Monday, West plays at Hutchinson and East/Loyola hosts Rochester Century.