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Kernels win first ESD title in 19 years

Mitchell’s Alex Hegg strikes the ball during Friday’s Eastern South Dakota Conference meet in Pierre. (Wade LaRoche/Capital Journal)

PIERRE — The Mitchell High School boys tennis team accomplished a feat that had eluded it for the last 19 years on Friday.

The Kernels rode the momentum from an undefeated Eastern South Dakota Conference regular season into the league meet and won in convincing fashion in Pierre. The title was the first for the team since 1995, when it won its only ESD tournament championship.

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“We set this as a goal early on and I couldn’t be happier or more proud of the team for coming through,” Mitchell tennis coach Pat Moller said. “We came in as a pretty heavy favorite and with a big bullseye on our back. We took everybody’s best shot and came out on top.”

Mitchell finished first, taking eight of the nine flights and accumulating 430 points, more than double the total of second-place Brandon Valley, which finished with 199 points. Last year’s champion. Watertown, finished fifth with 120 points.

The win comes after the Kernels suffered its first loss of the season Wednesday in a dual to Sioux Falls Lincoln.

“It doesn’t come easy in the ESD,” Moller said. “I told the boys we were going to see the best tennis we’ve seen all year.”

No. 1 single and No. 1 double player Jacob Cersosimo took titles at both of his flights, defeating Brandon Valley’s Billy Trevillyan in the championship match at No. 1 singles in a tiebreaker 11-10 (7-4). On Tuesday, Cersosimo beat Trevillyan in a dual meet in Mitchell, also in a tiebreaker.

“He (Cersosimo) represented what we are trying to do with Mitchell tennis very well today,” Moller said. “You have to be so mentally tough to be successful at that flight or you are going to lose.”

Cersosimo teamed with Alex Hegg to win at No. 1 doubles, again getting the best of Brandon Valley. Cersosimo and Hegg topped Trevillyan and Lucas Mutschelknaus 10-3 for first place.

“All year all we talked about is how we want the ESD trophy,” Cersosimo said. “Now it’s here and you get nervous. It’s nice to finally feel the accomplishment of being the ESD champ.”

Other singles champions for the Kernels included Brown at No. 2, Hegg at No. 3, Kanin Nelson at No. 4 and Gray Determan at No. 6. Brenden Lehr was the lone Mitchell singles player not to take first, but won his third-place match at No. 5.

Mitchell swept the doubles, with Brown and Nelson winning at No. 2, while Lehr teamed with Jacob Dahme to win at No. 3.

The Kernels are off until Thursday when they travel to Rapid City for the first day of the state tournament.

“Today was a big boost to our confidence,” Cersosimo said about Mitchell’s momentum heading into the state tournament.

Eastern South Dakota Conference boys tennis tournament

Team Results:

1. Mitchell 430; 2. Brandon Valley 199; 3. Aberdeen Central 189; 4. Yankton 182; 4.5 Watertown 120; 6. Brookings 107; 7. Huron 50; 8 Pierre 19.

Championship Matches:

Singles: No. 1 Jacob Cersosimo, MIT def. Billy Trevillyan, BV 11-10 (7-4); No. 2 Beau Brown, MIT def. Jason Shindler, YANK 10-5; No. 3 Alex Hegg, MIT def. Jesse Margolies, AC 10-4; No. 4 Kanin Nelson, MIT def. Dillon Pressel, AC 10-2; No. 5 Alex Grandbois, AC def. Brandon Frick, YANK 10-5; Third place: Brenden Lehr, MIT def. Seth Schamens, W 8-4; No. 6 Gray Determan, MIT def. Hunter Rockne, YANK.

Doubles: No. 1 Cersosimo/Hegg, MIT def. Trevillyan/Mutschelknaus, BV 10-3; No. 2 Brown/Nelson, MIT def. Blue/ Wan Egdorn, BV 10-5; No. 3 Lehr/Dahme, MIT def. Grandbois/Hollan, AC 10-7.