As Chris Liu watched Mankato East/Loyola’s final doubles team walk off the court, he had a pretty good idea his team’s playoff match against Willmar was tied at 3.
Fortunately, Liu was already in control of his No. 3 singles duel with Jarod Swoboda and, a few minutes later, polished off a 6-2, 6-2 win to give East/Loyola at 4-3 victory Thursday in the semifinals of the Section 2AA, Southern Division boys tennis tournament.
“I thought I had a pretty good groove going,” Liu said. “He had a pretty good forehand and backhand from the baseline so I tried to keep him moving. I didn’t want to hit too many balls down the center and give him a chance to come into the net.”
Liu was one of four singles players who won for the Cougars. Dominic Cannella was another, downing Drew Corneil 6-2, 6-1 at No. 2.
“I played him last year, and I knew he was a good player,” Cannella. “I just tried to limit my mistakes. I thought, tactically, I played a pretty good match.”
Thursday’s match was played amid cool temperatures, a slight wind and cloudy skies.
Cannella said it’s something the players have come to expect this spring.
“We should be used to it by now,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to matter anymore because, if we keep winning, we stay indoors now.”
Kameron Saiki was also a singles winner for East/Loyola, defeating Manuel Obregon 6-3, 6-4 at the No. 4 position.
Mason Bultje had the Cougars’ other win, downing Isaac Yoakum 6-5, 6-2. Bultje admitted afterward he got off to a slow start.
“It took me a set to figure him out,” Bultje said. “In the second set I just stopped going for too much. I just started chipping my returns and waited for my chance to come to the net.”