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Mitchell’s Flight 1 singles player Grace Grabenstein lunges to hit a forehand during a doubles match against Vermillion Tuesday morning at Hitchcock Park in Mitchell. (Brooke Cersosimo/Republic)

Kernels battle heat, open season with two wins

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In Pat Moller’s three years of coaching the Mitchell High School boys’ and girls’ tennis teams, Tuesday displayed the worst weather conditions.

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Tuesday’s triangular was moved up 2 1/2 hours due to the heat and began at 10 a.m.

But the heat didn’t phase the Kernel girls as they won their first two matches of the season over Vermillion and Rapid City Central. The Kernels (2-0) won all six singles matches and three doubles matches over Vermillion and edged the Cobblers 5-4.

“I’m very proud at the way they handled the heat and kept their energy up, especially in the afternoon,” Moller said. “The heat index was 110 when I looked and anyone who plays tennis knows, it’s 10 degrees hotter on the court.”

It was so hot that three Rapid City Central players forfeited — after learning Mitchell won the dual regardless of the outcome of their matches.

Before Tuesday, Moller wanted to use the first match to see where his team stood.

“I hoped we were good enough to compete and we found out today that we are,” said Moller, whose team won three matches last season. “Our results showed that we’re definitely a team that has potential to be successful. We have the opportunity to improve from last year.”

The team gained confidence after shutting out Vermillion in its first match.

“As young as we are, any time you can start off the season with that positive vibe, it really energizes the team,” Moller said. “The energy carried over to our next match and hopefully it carries on through the season.”

The Flight 2 — Haley Smith and Allison Buckley — and 3 — Sammy Pooley and Kendra Hanks — doubles teams won both of their matches Tuesday. Both teams easily surpassed their first opponents but were challenged against Rapid City. The Flight 2 doubles team eked out a victory in a tiebreaker 9-8(11-9), while the Flight 3 doubles team won 9-7.

The Kernels are back in action Saturday at the Brookings Jamboree. Mitchell begins at 9 a.m. and faces Brookings and Watertown.

MITCHELL 9, VERMILLION 0

SINGLES: No. 1 Grace Grabenstein (M) def. Abby Weiss 10-1; No. 2 Halle Larson (M) def. Libby Sykes 10-1; No. 3 Haley Smith (M) won by forfeit; No. 4 Sammy Pooley (M) def. Alex Posdal 10-1; No. 5 Allison Buckley (M) def. Brandi Styles 10-0; 6. Kendra Hanks (M) def. Kirstyn Bohn 10-1. DOUBLES: No. 1 Grabenstein/Larson (M) def. Weiss/Sykes 10-4; No. 2 Smith/Buckley (M) won by forfeit; No. 3 Pooley/Hanks (M) def. Styles/Bohn 10-3.

MITCHELL 5, RAPID CITY CENTRAL 4

SINGLES: No. 1 Kendall Tucker (RCC) def Grabenstein 8-2; No. 2 Tiana Duda (RCC) def. Larson 8-2; No. 3 Chelsey Christenson (RCC) def. Smith 8-6; No. 4 Pooley (M) won by default over Devorah Collins 5-2; No. 5 Buckley (M) won by default over Halle Downs 6-1; No. 6 Hanks (M) won by default over Mirianna Robidoux 6-1. JV: Tatum Dean (M) def. Halle Downs 9-8(10-8); Jaeden Lizakowski (M) def. Meghan Diaz 8-5; Hope Dosch (RCC) def. Kaihlen Smith 8-5; Hayley Franke (RCC) def. Marissa Moller 8-3; Karen Ly (RCC) def. Lori White 8-2; Sidney Zimmerman (M) def. Shania Biers 8-3; Maren Smith (M) def. Mckenzie Crowley 8-0; Becca Sadler (M) def. Emily Toms 8-1. DOUBLES: No. 1 Tucker/Duda (RCC) def. Grabenstein/Larson 8-1; No. 2 Haley Smith/Buckley (M) def. Chistenson/Hurley 9-8(11-9); No. 3 Pooley/Hanks (M) def. Collins/Robidoux 9-7. JV: Diaz/Dosch (RCC) def. Kaihlen Smith/Moller 8-2; Franke/Downs (RCC) def. Dean/Lizakowski 9-7; White/Maren Smith (M) def. Ly/Biers 8-4; Zimmerman/Sadler (M) def. Crowley/Toms 8-3.

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Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.
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