MHS tennis team returns six to courtThe Mitchell High School boys’ tennis team has had one practice outside since it started its season March 11, making it hard for head coach Pat Moller to mold his varsity lineup.
By: Brooke Cersosimo, The Daily Republic
The Mitchell High School boys’ tennis team has had one practice outside since it started its season March 11, making it hard for head coach Pat Moller to mold his varsity lineup.
“When you have 11 guys on one court, it’s difficult to see where they’re going to end up,” said Moller, whose team is practicing at Puetz Construction’s indoor court.
The Kernels’ first scheduled match of the season was today against Huron and St. Thomas More, but because of cold temperatures it has been postponed to April 5 and will be held at Hitchcock Park in Mitchell. The Kernels’ first match is now against Pierre and Rapid City Central on April 2 in Pierre.
Despite not having a lineup that is set in stone, Moller said his returning six varsity players will be in the starting six spots.
Returning for the Kernels are senior Tate Crago, sophomore Jacob Cersosimo, sophomore Beau Brown, sophomore Brenden Lehr, freshman Kanin Nelson and freshman Alex Hegg. Mitchell lost Taylor Moore due to graduation from last year’s team.
“There’s potential with this team, but they have a long ways to go yet,” Moller said. “The biggest thing for me is to get them to see how much work it’s going to take to be what they could be. If they can come to practice every day, realizing that every practice is an opportunity to get better, I think the sky is the limit for this team.”
Moller said he looks to his two seniors — Crago and Regan Brands — to lead the Kernels.
“I look for Tate to really be the anchor of the group and he brought a lot of leadership, experience and maturity last year. He’s a year older now, so I’m expecting a lot more of that from him,” he said. “Regan, he is the perfect example of sportsmanship. He has a great attitude and is a great role model for the younger players.”
Four other players who will be Mitchell’s No. 7 through 10 players are freshmen Landon Pooley, Ryan Solberg and Kyle Jamison and eighth-grader Jacob Dahme.
Last year, the Kernels finished fifth in the Eastern South Dakota Conference tournament and ninth at the state tournament. Watertown is the favorite coming into the season and Pierre and Mitchell fall behind it in the ESD, according to Moller.
The second-year coach was happy with last year’s ninth-place finish but thinks his team can be toward the top of the field.
“With as young as we were, I was very happy with ninth last year and I think we surprised a lot of people. We just want to move forward from there,” Moller said. “We’ve kind of set a goal this year that we want to be on that team podium at the end of the year. If we can finish top five that would be great.”