Central's Logan Sandberg wins second-straight state singles title
The Knights senior cruised past Shanley's Kai Pierce 6-1, 6-0 in the final, while Red River's Espen Schneider and Saylor Kuenzel won the doubles championship.
Logan Sandberg played in a few close matches in the East Region boys tennis tournament.
He did not at state.
Sandberg, a senior at Grand Forks Central, capped his prep tennis career in dominating fashion, rolling past Fargo Shanley's Kai Pierce 6-1, 6-0 in the singles championship Saturday at Choice Health and Fitness.
It marked a second-straight singles title for Sandberg, the first Knight to pull off the feat since Charlie Paukert in 2003 and 2004.
"The past six years have been the best years of my life so far," said Sandberg, who also led the Knights to three team championships, including the last two. "I wouldn't trade the world for it. Finishing it out with a team title and an individual title, it's pretty awesome. I'm really happy. I'm just so thankful for my coaches. They've helped me every step of the way. I couldn't be more thankful for them."
A week earlier, Sandberg lost a singles match to Grand Forks Red River's Espen Schneider in the East Region team final. It was his only defeat in the last two years. Sandberg also was pushed to a first-set tiebreaker in the singles final by Pierce.
But the senior right-hander played a more patient and methodical game at state, where nobody won more than five games against him in his seven matches.
"He put himself in a lot of spots where he didn't have to come up with the big shot and he allowed his opponent to make some errors," Central coach Max Weisser said. "When he got short balls, he stepped in, but at the end of the day, he just played really smart."
In the final, Pierce had no answers for Sandberg.
When they got into long points, Sandberg routinely outlasted Pierce. When Pierce tried to be aggressive and attack the net, Sandberg whipped cross-court passing shots with his forehand.
"I feel like that's a go-to shot of mine and I can rely on it in big points," Sandberg said. "I'm happy those were there today."
Since boys tennis moved to a fall season in 1977, only three Central players have won multiple singles titles — Joe Rubin, Paukert and Sandberg.
"He's a great one that I can use talking to other players on the team, because he made himself into this tennis player," Weisser said. "He's not one of those natural athletes that stuff just really comes easy to. He had to put all the time in, and that's all him. He's an absolute tennis junkie and he made himself into the player that he became.
"I just can't be more proud of him. Back-to-back state titles, especially after going undefeated last year, all the pressure put on him, all the pressure he put on himself, and he was able to deal with that and he did it with such grace. He's just a great tennis player and a great kid. We're really going to miss him."
Schneider, Kuenzel win doubles title
Espen Schneider and Saylor Kuenzel saved their best for last.
The Red River duo won the state doubles title, easily beating Bismarck Legacy's Anthony Janes and Jay Moylan 6-1, 6-1 in the final Saturday at Choice Health and Fitness.
"They played probably the best they have all year together," Red River coach Josh Lunak said. "They played super smart, mixed it up really well, came to the net, stayed back, their lobs were on. . . I just couldn't be more proud of these guys. They worked hard at it. They had a tough semifinal and came back and took care of business."
Schneider, a sophomore, and Kuenzel, a junior, didn't drop a set at state.
They beat West Region champions Zachary and Aidan Diehl of Minot 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals before cruising in the title match.
"It's definitely a memory that will last forever," Kuenzel said.
N.D. state individual tournament
At Choice Health and Fitness, Saturday
Logan Sandberg, GFC, over Kai Pierce, Shan, 6-1, 6-0
Ethan Raan, WFS, over Ryder McDonald, GFC, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3
Sandberg over McDonald 6-4, 6-1; Pierce over Raan 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4
Jake McCormick, FD, over Kellen Johnson, RR, 6-2, 6-4
McCormick over Kasen Baer, WFS, 5-7, 6-2, 6-3; Johnson over Mason Haugenoe, Will, 6-2, 6-4
Espen Schneider-Saylor Kuenzel, RR, over Anthony Janes-Jay Moylan, BL, 6-1, 6-1
Cole Wilber-Evan Panzer, GFC, over Zachary Diehl-Aidan Diehl, Min, 6-4, 6-1
Schneider-Kuenzel over Diehl-Diehl 6-4, 6-4; Janes-Moylan over Wilber-Panzer 2-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5
Seth Zeltinger-Kai Kringlie, VC, over Gage Orr-Mason Lunzman, Jam, 6-3, 6-3
Zeltinger-Kringlie over Noah Christensen-William Solberg, WFS, 6-2, 6-4; Orr-Lunzman over Karter Hatzenbuhler-Brady Helbling, Man, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4