Mitchell's Hegg on 35-match win streak
Alex Hegg is unpredictable on the tennis court.
The sophomore doesn’t have one specific strategy when he plays and keeps his opponents off guard
This has been working for Hegg, Mitchell’s No. 3 singles player, for three seasons. He has won his last 35 singles matches — a winning streak that stretches back to the state tournament of his eighth-grade season in May 2012.
“I think every coach looks for kids who have that ‘it’ factor, that ability to figure out how to win when you’re ahead or behind and when you’re favored or the underdog,” said Mitchell tennis coach Pat Moller, who was unsure if the 35-match win streak is a school record.
“He’s proven over the last two and a half years that he’s got that. The sky’s the limit for this kid.”
The streak began at the 2012 state tournament after Hegg, who played No. 6 singles that year, fell in his first match. He received a bye in the first round and after losing in the second round, Hegg came back to win four straight matches, earning ninth place as an eighth-grader.
Last season, Hegg picked up where he left off and moved up to be Mitchell’s No. 5 singles player. As a freshman, he won the Eastern South Dakota Conference title and state championship in the No. 5 spot, recording a 24-0 record.
“That was a huge benchmark for me because it pushed me to get better and move up in the lineup,” Hegg said, referring to his first state title.
This season, Hegg is the Kernels’ No. 3 singles player and has started the season 7-0. In those seven matches, he’s only given up eight games.
“I didn’t know how many matches I’ve won in a row until Moller brought it up to me earlier this year in Huron,” Hegg said. “Then it hit me and it’s pretty crazy to think about that. It’s beyond me that I could actually do that.”
Hegg’s most impressive win of the season came April 15 against Sioux Falls O’Gorman’s Jake Moran. Hegg beat Moran, who was the state champion at No. 4 singles last year, 6-1, 6-2.
“He came out against Moran in what was supposed to be his toughest match of the year, and he didn’t just beat him. He left no doubt in anyone’s mind that he was the better tennis player,” Moller said.
Hegg put a lot of time in during the offseason and worked to move up in this year’s Kernel lineup.
“He’s the first tennis player that I’ve coached where tennis is his extracurricular priority,” Moller said. “You look at my top four kids and my No. 1 is a hockey player, No. 2 is a basketball player and No. 4 is the quarterback of our football team. Alex is the first athlete I have that tennis is his love and it shows.
“This win streak and these accomplishments that he has don’t just come. They come with a lot of work, dedication and attention to detail, and that’s what he has.”
The Kernels (7-0, 3-0 ESD) are a third of the way through their season and they will play their first home match of the season Friday. Mitchell hosts Huron, Madison and Vermillion and the quadrangular begins at 10 a.m. at Hitchcock Park in Mitchell.