MINNEAPOLIS — In the Section 7A championship match three years ago, Mark Borland and Paxton Kriske had three match points to close out a third-doubles win, which would have eventually led to a possible Bluejackets’ victory.
Instead of winning the title, Hibbing lost 4-3 to Virginia, and that’s something Borland had a hard time swallowing.
The Bluejacket senior was waiting for another chance at redemption, and he got it in a big way.
Borland, along with his partner Joe Dwyer, finished off that last point this time around as Hibbing defeated Thief River Falls 4-3 to win the consolation title at the State Class A Meet held at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center Wednesday.
It was a tightly contested meet from the outset, with three of the matches going to a 10-point super tiebreaker, but it was Borland’s and Dwyer’s match that decided the outcome of the meet.
As for Borland, who was a sophomore at the time, he remembers that match like it happened only yesterday.
“I’m not going to lie,” Borland said. “We weren’t the last match done, but waiting to see if we could get four points for the next two hours was one of the worst feelings of dread in my life.
“When it didn’t work out for us, that was awful. For the number of seniors on that team, and for how good that team was, to fall short because of me, I carry that to this day.”
He doesn’t have to carry that around any more.
“I got a little bit of redemption,” Borland said. “That was nice. That was one of the closest matches I’ve ever played. It probably is the closest match I’ve ever played. Both sets ended in a 7-5 tiebreaker, and the third-set tiebreaker ended 10-8.
“It literally doesn’t get any closer than that. This feels pretty awesome. To win your last match as a senior is nice.”
Borland and Dwyer did lose that first set to Noah Rupprecht and Dylan Hahn 7-6 (7-5),
“Joe and I struggled early on, but we started to pull it together toward the end the second set,” Borland said. “We played some good tennis.”
Borland and Dwyer were able to rally to win the second set 7-6 (7-5), but they fell behind by three in the super tiebreaker, 6-3.
“We had to keep focusing and try every point, never give up,” Borland said. “It was a battle, but it came out our way.”
Borland and Dwyer got it tied 6-6, then it was tied 8-8 with Rupprecht and Hahn serving. The Hibbing twosome broke serve, then Borland, who was toeing the service line, wanted to get that first serve in. He had been missing on some of them, but this one, it had to be put into play.
“I figured we had a better chance if I made sure that first serve was in than if it was wild or a costly miss,” Borland said. “I took it down a notch, I put it in there and it worked out our way.”
Borland got the serve in, then a couple of rallies later, Dywer put away the game-winner.
“I knew I needed to do something at the net and make a move there,” Dwyer said. “I had an overhead, and he got it back, so I was saying to myself, ‘Just angle this one off and play it safe.’ That’s what I did, and he didn’t make it there. That shot felt awesome.
“It was stressful and we were nervous, but we kept them on their toes. The team crept in, and we saw all of our teammates rooting for us. We had a lot of fans. That helped a lot.”
Hibbing coach Gary Conda couldn’t have asked for a better ending for one of his captains.
“It’s wonderful that they could pull this out,” Conda said. “I’m sure that was going through his mind from years ago, but, ‘Wow,’ did they finish well. They kept coming forward. They refused to lose. They kept fighting.
“They could have easily given up about an hour before that, but it paid off.”
Of course, it took three other wins to get the job done.
At third doubles, Luke Lundell and Brandon Butkovich would defeat Reese Janisich and Rhett Janisich in two sets, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6); Jack Gryzbowski and Isaac Hildenbrand downed Ethan Janisich and Aiden Martell 2-6, 6-3, 11-9 at second doubles; and Dominic Warzecha beat Tucker Skime 6-2, 6-1 at third singles.
In another hotly-contest match, Carter Anderson lost 6-0 to Kole Gillespie in the first set, but he battled back to take set two 7-5.
In the super tiebreaker, Gillespie would prevail 10-7.
At second singles, Camden Broadwell would defeat Ryan Osborne 6-4, 7-5, and at fourth singles, Jack Onkka defeated Nic Cicchi 6-1, 6-4.
Hibbing 4, Thief River Falls 3
Singles: No. 1 — Kole Gillepsie, TRF, def. Carter Anderson, 6-0, 5-7, 10-7; No. 2 — Camden Broadwell, TRF, def. Ryan Osborne, 6-4, 7-5; No. 3 — Dominic Warzecha, H, def. Tucker Skime, 6-2, 6-1; No. 4 — Jack Onkka, TRF, def. Nic Cicchi, 6-1, 6-4.
Doubles: No. 1 — Mark Borland-Joe Dwyer, H, def. Noah Rupprecht-Dylan Hahn, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-5), 10-8; No. 2 — Isaac Hildenbrand-Jack Gryzbowski, H, def. Ethan Janisich-Aiden Martell, 2-6, 6-3, 11-9; No. 3 — Luke Lundell-Brandon Butkovich, H, def. Reece Janisich-Rhett Janisich, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6).