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Fondrick brothers make impression with 6th place finish

After earning a sixth-place finish in the Class 1A state boys’ tennis doubles meet, the Detroit Lakes Fondrick brother duo of Isaac and Alex proved they belonged.

The Fondricks played their way through the consolation bracket, after losing to the eventual state champions in the opening round, and secured sixth place, which was the highest finish by a public school.

“We really didn’t want to go two and out, because that’s what everyone was expecting us to do because we are from Detroit Lakes,” said sophomore Alex Fondrick, the younger of the two brothers.  “I think we surprised a lot of people and turned some heads. We proved we deserved to be there.”

The Laker duo finished as Section 8-1A runners-up and received a tough first-round draw against Blake’s senior Kai Skallerud and junior Taylor Parr.

Skallerud had won a state doubles title two years ago when he was playing for Sartell, so it was one of the Fondricks’ toughest tests of the season.

“We knew it was going to be a tough match, so we went it focusing on having fun and get as much as we could out of it,” said Isaac Fondrick, who just graduated from DLHS. “Their serves were so much harder than we’ve seen before. It definitely was a different experience for us.”

Skallerud and Parr won in a pair of 6-1 straight sets and eventually moved on to win the state championship with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Tuck Sjoblad and Austin Wong of Breck.

But the loss motivated the Fondrick brothers, with a berth into Friday’s rounds the main goal.

“Losing that first round got us ready for our second match, because we didn’t want to go two and out,” Isaac said.

A slow start resulted in the DL duo being down 3-0, but the second set was exactly the jumpstart they needed.

After losing 6-4 in set one, the Fondricks won the final three games to win the second set 6-4 and eventually took the tiebreaker 10-6.

“I felt a lot of pressure (in the consolation round) because we wanted to keep our season alive and for Isaac, his career alive,” Alex said. “But after winning that one, we just had a bunch of confidence after winning our first state match.”

It showed, as the Fondricks rolled through Fergus Falls’ duo, senior Jason Burns and junior Sam Rausch in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4 to advance to the fifth-place match against St. Paul Academy’s Matt Henneman and Nick Ozolins.

Once again, a slow start put the Fondricks in a hole after losing the first set 6-3, but the second set was totally different as they pulled off a 6-4 win to force a tiebreaker.

“(Henneman and Ozolins) beat the Crookston team we lost to in the section championship 6-0, 6-0, so we knew they were good,” Isaac said. “In the first set, they were more aggressive than us, but in the second, we played the best we have all year.”

Unfortunately in the tiebreaker, the Fondricks played the St. Paul Academy twosome close, but still fell 10-5, after falling down early 8-3.

But even though it was frustrating for the Fondricks to come very close to a top five state finish, they knew they proved what they set out to do.

“It was like a dream come true and the atmosphere was awesome,” Alex said. “We had an entire bleacher section full of our fans and the atmosphere was just awesome.”

For Isaac, going out having fun was also accomplished.

“It was an amazing experience,” he said. “No one, including us, didn’t imagine we would go that far. And to finish as the highest public school in the state, is unreal.”

Laker results - Class 1A state boys’ tennis meet at Reed-Sweatt Family Center in Minneapolis, Thursday-Friday, June 6-7

DL doubles results (Isaac and Alex Fondrick): First round – Kai Skallerud/Taylor Parr (Blake) def. Isaac Fondrick/Alex Fondrick (DL) 6-1, 6-1

Consolation: Fondrick/Fondrick def. Rudy Lipovetz/Joe Lipovetz (Southwest Christian) 4-6, 64, (10-6); Fondrick/Fondrick def. Jason Burns/Sam Rausch (FF) 6-2, 6-4

Fifth-place: Matt henneman/Nick Ozolins (St. Paul Academy) def. Fondrick/Fondrick 6-3, 4-6, (10-5)

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.