MINNEAPOLIS — If there’s one word to describe Nic Cicchi it’s fighter.
It doesn’t matter who the Hibbing fourth singles player is matched up against, he’s not going to go down without a fight.
He proved that again Tuesday, taking Mounds Park Academy’s Vlad Vutov to a super tiebreaker to score the Bluejackets’ lone point in a 6-1 loss to the Panthers in a State Class A quarterfinal contest at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center.
Cicchi knew his team wasn’t doing so well, but he found the fortitude to persevere and at least give Hibbing one point in the match against the private school that is ranked No. 1 in Class A.
“Gary (Conda) told me that we were losing 6-0, and I knew I could win it,” Cicchi said. “I wanted to get at least one win in there.”
There was one problem. Cicchi lost the first set 6-1.
“I thought I was playing well,” Cicchi said. “I went to deuce most of the time, but I just couldn’t finish the games off. He was a good player.”
In the second set, Cicchi came back and won it 6-2. He started playing aggressively, and it paid off.
“I started hitting the ball harder instead of playing conservatively,” Cicchi said. “I started going to the net for probably the first time this year. I made 10 overheads, so that helped a lot.
“My match wasn’t any quicker, but I feel like it normally would be if I play like that. In my next match, I’ll have that mind set.”
Cicchi said he doesn’t like tiebreakers, and that played out as he fell behind 3-0. Fortunately, Cicchi came back to win 10-7.
“I always get nervous about them,” Cicchi said. “I don’t know why, but I pulled it out. He started hitting the ball super hard toward the end, so I’m glad he double faulted a couple of times. I double faulted the first two points I had.
“I got down, but I started hitting the ball in. He doubled faulted once, then I broke his serve to win.”
It was a good feeling to get that point.
“Gary said the other matches were close, so it’s too bad we couldn’t have pulled a couple of them out,” Cicchi said. “They’re a good team.”
Just ask Carter Anderson. He lost 6-0, 6-1 to Parker Law, who is the No. 1 rated player in the state in Class A.
“I wanted to hit the ball, keep it in play and get as many points as I could,” Anderson said. “I did well at that, but the score doesn’t show it. It was fun competition. He serves the ball and it flies over your head, and he doesn’t miss at all.
“It gets a little frustrating, but you have to realize how much work he puts in. He deserves it. I tried to keep calm and play my game. I tried not to miss. I learned that I still have a lot of work to do.”
At second singles, Ryan Osborne pushed Justin Prochnow, who is ranked eighth in the state, to the limit, falling 6-3, 6-4.
“I had played him earlier in the year at the Pine City Invitational,” Osborne said. “I knew that if you hit the ball a lot back to him, he would make errors. I knew I needed to do that.”
Osborne pounded shot after shot back at Prochnow, at least in the first set.
“It was working, then he broke serve, then it went downhill,” Osborne said. “It got into my head.”
Osborne was down 5-2 in the second set, but he fought back to make it a match.
“I wanted to go into a tiebreaker,” Osborne said. “I knew I needed to hit the ball more, but I was getting tentative. I needed to hit out more.”
What did Osborne get out of the match?
“I learned that I can play with bigger players, big hitters,” Osborne said.
At third singles, Dom Warzecha lost to Ellio VanDyke 6-1, 6-4.
In doubles, Mark Borland and Joe Dwyer lost to Jerusalem Thao and Dillion Vue 7-5, 6-3.
“They’re very good,” Borland said. “I think some people get it into their heads that they’re ranked No. 1 in the state, so they’re untouchable. To be honest, they weren’t. Joe and I played well, and we had them going for awhile there.
“So did some of our other teams. Third doubles was close. They’re a well-trained team. They’re deep.”
Actually, Borland and Dwyer had a 4-1 lead in the first set, before things started falling apart.
“We missed a few more shots, but they started making some shots,” Borland said. “It was the luck of the draw.”
Borland and Dwyer had to regroup, but what were they going to do?
“It was a brand-new match, and you still need to win two sets to win, so we had to keep swinging away,” Borland said. “We had to keep battling. We did that. Although it was 6-3, it was closer than the score reflects.
“Joe and I have played some good doubles teams throughout the year, and they were one of the better teams we played, but not unbeatable.”
Dwyer likened Thoo and Vue to Duluth East’s first doubles team.
“It was good competition, and it was a lot of fun,” Dwyer said. “They’re probably one of the best teams we’ve played all year and lost to. It’s a lot of fun playing people this good. Mark and I had a lot of fun with Duluth East.
“We gave them a run for their money and came up short. Any time we play this high level of tennis, we learn a lot. I have no regrets about today.”
Of course, Dwyer would have liked to have finished off that 4-1 lead in the first set.
“We came out on fire, then they started getting in a groove,” Dwyer said. “We tightened up a little bit and played more conservative. That hurt us. We were down about that, but we came back a little bit in the second set.
“They were making a lot of mistakes at the beginning. It was going quite well. We were playing our game, and they were the ones struggling. They got in a groove, and we had to start playing points out.”
At second doubles, Isaac Hildenbrand and Jack Gryzbowsk fell to Alexander Vue and Karan Jain 6-1, 6-3, and at third doubles, Luke Lundell and Brandon Butkovich lost to Diego Valverde and Henry Earl Fisher 6-1, 7-5.
Mounds Park Academy 6
Singles: No. 1 — Parker Law, MPA, def. Carter Anderson, 6-0, 6-1; No. 2 — Justin Prochnow, MPA, def. Ryan Osborne, 6-3, 6-4; No. 3 — Elliot VanDyke, MPA, def. Dominic Warzecha, 6-1, 6-4; No. 4 — Nic Cicchi, H, def. Vlad Vutov, 1-6, 6-2, 10-7.
Doubles: No. 1 — Jerusalem Thao-Dillon Vue, MPA, def. Mark Borland-Joe Dwyer, 7-5, 6-3; No. 2 — Alexander Vue-Karan Jain, MPA, def. Isaac Hildenbrand-Jack Gryzbowski, 6-1, 6-3; No. 3 – Diego Valverde-Henry Earl Fisher, MPA, def. Luke Lundell-Brandon Butkovich, 6-1, 7-5.