SAVAGE -- Bemidji High School senior Filippo Buffo came up short on a scorching hot day at the Class AA boys tennis individual singles state tournament Thursday at Prior Lake High School in Savage.
Buffo, an Italian exchange student, suffered his second loss of the season as he fell 6-1, 6-4 to Orono junior Matias Maule in the opening round of the 16-player tournament. The defeat brought Buffo’s record to 24-2 as he completed his time as a Lumberjack.
With temperatures in the 90s, the heat took a toll early in the match.
“Filippo kind of had a tough start,” head coach Kyle Fodness said. “He played well and was doing some good things, but the heat just affects you differently on different days. He actually had to take a medical timeout about halfway through the first set.”
Maule, ranked 10th in Class AA, held his own as he prevailed 6-1 in the first set.
“(Maule) controlled the court well. You could tell he was on his game,” Fodness said. “He was hitting lines, stepping up in the court and doing a good job. Filippo had a lot of good points, too. It took him a little while to get rolling in the first set and I think a little bit of that was just how he was feeling.”
Buffo battled through the heat and worked his way back into the match in the second set.
“He did a really good job of adjusting his game plan a little bit and becoming quite a bit more aggressive in the second set,” Fodness said. “That’s tough to do, especially when you’re down, you lost the first set and you’re hurting a little bit. He did a great job of stepping up on the court and being aggressive.”
The Lumberjack trailed 3-0 to start the second set before rallying to cut the deficit to one game at 5-4. Buffo repeatedly fought off match point after match point before ultimately succumbing 6-4 in the set.
“I’m nothing but proud of him,” Fodness said. “He fought through the weather and the heat a little bit and got off to a tough start there. But he just kept battling, never wanted to say quit and finished off a really strong season against a really good player.”
The Lumberjacks qualified for the Class AA team state tournament this season for the first time since 1973. BHS was eliminated by Edina 7-0 in the quarterfinals Tuesday.