Freshman wonder wins title
June 2, 2023
Lumberjacks tennis player Ethan Lavan has had a strong season. Last Thursday, he capped off the regular season by laying claim to the Section 7A individual championship ... as a freshman. Lavan is the first Cloquet boy to make it to the state tournament since Peter Tomhave made it in 2018 and 2019.
"Things broke right for Ethan in the tournament," said Cloquet-Esko-Carlton coach Derek Johnson. "The top seed in the section from Rock Ridge decided to play No. 1 doubles, so it opened the door for him to be moved to the No. 1 seed. He took it and ran with it."
That left Lavan as the tournament top seed, and he didn't disappoint. Playing at Duluth's Longview Tennis Club, he notched an impressive 6-4, 7-6 win over Hermantown senior Sam Swenson in the semifinal round.
"Even though he won the tournament, I don't think he played as well as he can," Johnson said. "I think it was the first time that he had the top seed on his back and it made him maybe a bit more nervous, but he is so good and so confident that he hung in there and did the job."
As an eighth-grader last year - playing No. 1 singles for Cloquet in middle school - Lavan placed third at sections.
In the finals last week, Lavan showed his freshman season was no fluke, as he dispatched junior Kasey Lamppa of Rock Ridge 6-4, 6-1.
"It isn't very often that ninth-grade boys make it to the state tennis tournament," Johnson said. "He is very patient and is a very, very good defensive player. Other older players will try to hit winners early in the point, but Ethan will counterpunch and wait for his chance."
Now that Lavan has made the state tournament as a freshman, he has a chance to really see what the state's best tennis players can do.
"This will be a great opportunity for him," Johnson said. "As he gets older he will get stronger and be more aggressive and he will just get better and better."
Earlier in the individual portion of the section tournament, the CEC No. 1 doubles team of Ethan Doty and Max Sundquist, who were the No. 7 seed, picked up an impressive win over the No. 10 doubles team from Aitkin.
Prior to the individual section tournament the Lumberjacks were able to secure a first-round 4-3 win over Aitkin. Lavan won at No. 1 singles, but they dropped the next three singles matches. CEC then won all three doubles matches to pick up the win. At No. 1 doubles, Doty and Sundquist won 6-4, 6-2. At No. 2 doubles, Joey and Noah Bender won 6-1, 6-1 and, finally, the No. 3 team of Sam Painter and TJ Sabyan won 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 to end the match and pick up the win.
In their second-round team matchup, the Jacks fell 7-0 to Rock Ridge, who were the eventual team champions in Section 7A.
Lavan will play in the state tournament June 8 at the Reed Sweatt Tennis Center in Minneapolis.