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Kernels drop first match of season, fall to Lincoln

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A highly anticipated high school boys tennis match between Sioux Falls Lincoln and Mitchell didn't disappoint spectators Wednesday at Hitchcock Park.

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After many back-and-forth matches, the Patriots left the Kernels with their lone loss of the season. Mitchell fell 6-3 to Lincoln, which suffered its only loss of the season last week against Sioux Falls O'Gorman. The Kernels finished their regular season 21-1 and 11-0 in the Eastern South Dakota Conference.

"We got to see if we belonged in that conversation as one of the top teams in the state, and I think we do belong," Mitchell coach Pat Moller said. "The score doesn't tell the story of how close that match was. Every match could've gone either way. If we played them again this season, the score could end up 9-0 with either team winning."

With an estimated 100 spectators at the match, Moller said it was good for his players to get used to a state tournament-like atmosphere.

"There was a big crowd with a lot of cheering and that's what they'll see next week," he said. "A lot of our boys haven't been on the court during that type of atmosphere. Playing these good players and being in this situation is going to help us in the long run. It couldn't have happened at a better time."

The Kernels earned a victory from their No. 1 doubles team -- Jacob Cersosimo and Alex Hegg. The pair beat Lincoln's Kaleb Dobbs and Brent Heflin 6-2, 6-3. Mitchell also earned singles wins from No. 2 Beau Brown and No. 5 Brenden Lehr. Brown topped Heflin 6-1, 6-4, while Lehr, who is undefeated this season, defeated Arjun Choudhry 6-4, 6-0.

No. 3 Hegg's singles win streak ended at 49 matches after falling to Sam Dobbs in a tight three-set match, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5.

"He handled it well," Moller said of Hegg's first loss since 2012. "I don't think that's something Alex thinks about. He's a cool cat out there and looks the same whether he wins or loses. He's going to learn from that match because he certainly had his opportunities."

The Kernels look to rebound Friday as they compete in the conference tournament in Pierre. Mitchell hasn't won the ESD title in boys tennis since 1995.

"We know nobody is going to roll over and hand us the trophy," Moller said. "We're going to see the best tennis from these teams. We need to play our best and look to improve because if we don't, we're going to get beat."

SIOUX FALLS LINCOLN 6, MITCHELL 3

SINGLES: No. 1 Kaleb Dobbs (L) def. Jacob Cersosimo 6-1, 6-3; No. 2 Beau Brown (M) def. Brent Heflin 6-1, 6-4; No. 3 Sam Dobbs (L) def. Alex Hegg 6-4, 6-4; No. 4 Austin Noldner (L) def. Kanin Nelson 6-4, 6-4; No. 5 Brenden Lehr (M) def. Arjun Choudhry 6-4, 6-0; No. 6 Eric Rossing (L) def. Gray Determan 6-3, 6-4; JV: Jacob Dahme (M) def. Dylan Wald 8-2; Carter Cavanaugh (M) def. Graham Leonard 8-6; Akshay Choudhry (L) def. Kyle Jamison 9-8(7-3); Thomas Beck (L) def. Adam Loes 8-6; Tommy Jensen (L) def. Jared Suelflow 8-2; Carter Haugen (L) def. Baley Miller 8-3; Aiden DeBoer (L) def. Garret Johnson 8-0; Jeb Cooper (L) def. Nathan Zimmerman 8-4.

DOUBLES: No. 1 Cersosimo/Hegg (M) def. K. Dobbs/Heflin 6-2, 6-3; No. 2 S. Dobbs/Noldner (L) def. Brown/Nelson 7-5, 6-4; No. 3 Choudhry/Rossing (L) def. Lehr/Dahme 6-7(7-3), 7-6(8-6), 6-4; JV: Determan/Cavanaugh (M) def. Wald/Leonard 8-3; Choudhry/Beck (L) def. Jamison/Loes 9-8(7-4); Jensen/Haugen (L) def. Suelflow/Miller 8-2; DeBoer/Cooper (L) def. Johnson/Zimmerman 8-6.

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