By STUART GROSKREUTZ
ST. PAUL – For the second year in a row, the Stillwater boys’ tennis team pulled off an upset to advance to the Section 4AA semifinals.
The fifth-seeded Ponies upended fourth-seeded Cretin-Derham Hall 5-2 in Thursday’s quarterfinals to earn a shot at No. 1 seed Mahtomedi, which also ended Stillwater’s season in the semifinals a year ago. The Zephyrs also blanked Stillwater 7-0 earlier this season. The semifinals are slated for Monday, with No. 2 St. Paul Harding hosting No. 3 Roseville in the other semifinal.
Stillwater (7-9) lost to Roseville 5-2 late in the regular season a year ago before bouncing back to defeat the Raiders by the same score in sections. The Ponies also lost to Cretin-Derham Hall 5-2 on April 17 this season before turning the tables with Thursday’s triumph.
"It was definitely our most complete team effort of the year and it’s nice to see the guys playing their best right now," Ponies coach Dave Kahl said. "We had lost in our first meeting, so to turn three matches around in sections was very satisfying."
The Ponies won three of four singles points and also prevailed at first and third doubles.
Colton Anderson breezed past Jake Ernst 6-3, 6-2 at first singles and Sam Stiff, who provided Stillwater’s lone singles victory in the previous meeting this season, bounced back after dropping the first set in a 2-6, 6-0, 6-2 victory over Matt Eichenger at second singles.
Cretin-Derham Hall’s Brandon Steer stopped Mitchell Johnson 6-2, 6-3 at third singles, but Nick Rheinberg pulled out a 6-4, 6-4 win for the Ponies over Eric Schuld at the fourth spot.
Nick Folz and Brady Tynen defeated Michael Munson and Conor Leyden at third doubles and, with the outcome of the match already decided, Stillwater’s Scott Xiong and Daniel Ahrendt added a 6-2, 5-7, (10-5) win over Harry Hartnell and Nolan Arons at first doubles.
Playing at second doubles, Stillwater’s Max Wilkinson and Stone Xiong fell to Brendon Gernes and Gregory Tschann 6-3, 6-3.
"There were good matches across the board – fortunately we were able to come through in some close ones this time," Kahl said.
n Also on Thursday, Stillwater’s Victor Ary posted a 6-4 exhibition singles victory over Matthew Miller.
Stillwater 5, Cretin-Derham Hall 2
No. 1 – Colton Anderson (St) def. Jake Ernst, 6-3, 6-2.
No. 2 – Sam Stiff (St) def. Matt Eichenger, 2-6, 6-0, 6-2.
No. 3 – Brandon Steer (C-DH) def. Mitchell Johnson, 6-2, 6-3.
No. 4 – Nick Rheinberger (St) def. Eric Schuld 6-4, 6-4.
No. 1 – Scott Xiong-Daniel Ahrendt (St) def. Harry Hartnell-Nolan Arons, 6-2, 5-7, (10-5).
No. 2 – Brendon Gernes-Gregory Tschann (C-DH) def. Max Wilkinson-Stone Xiong, 6-3, 6-3.
No. 3 – Nick Folz-Brady Tynen (St) def. Michael Munson-Conor Leyden, 6-4, 6-3.