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Expectations remain high for Mitchell High School girls tennis team

After two straight state championships, expectations are again high for the Mitchell High School girls tennis team.

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Mitchell's Megan Mastel competes in No. 6 singles during a match against Rapid City Central last season at Hitchcock Park. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade

After two straight state championships, expectations are again high for the Mitchell High School girls tennis team.

The Kernels have captured back-to-back Class A girls tennis titles, including last season’s 59-point win over second-place Rapid City Christian. The Kernels return three individual state champs as the expectations are again sky high.

“I talked with them a little bit about us having a target on our back and we have to be willing to accept that,” Mitchell coach Pat Moller said. “We have to expect that teams are going to elevate their play against us because when you are the top, it tends to motivate other teams to maybe play better than they would normally. We have to accept that challenge and I think our girls are ready for that.”

Mitchell return a host of familiar faces to the lineup. Kiersten Bathke was the lone senior from last season’s team, which also claimed the Eastern South Dakota Conference title.

Olivia Huber, Julia Platt and Megan Mastel all return after winning individual state championships. Platt and Delaney Degen claimed a doubles title, while Huber and Bathke also teamed up for a doubles championship.

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The Kernels started practice Monday and Moller said the host of experienced players have brought a competitive attitude.

“I’ve been really impressed with how prepared the girls have been going into this first week of practice,” Moller said. “We do a lot of challenge matches and typically it’s pretty stressful for the girls, but they’ve all come ready to battle and their focus is where it needs to be and I am really pleased with where we are at.”

Mitchell also landed a transfer in Sydney Reynolds, who was the Flight No. 1 singles player last season at Norfolk, Nebraska. But due to Mitchell’s depth, she will play Flight No. 4 singles this season.

“She’s a smooth player and a very intelligent player,” Moller said. “She thinks through points well and exposes her opponents’ weaknesses. She’s going to definitely help us out.”

Atlanta Stahle, who took fourth at Flight 1 singles last season, will remain in the same spot in the lineup.

“She’s looked really strong in practice,” Moller said. “She has definitely blossomed into that team leader role and I think she puts a lot of expectations on herself and rightly so. She’s a very talented player.”

Huber and Amber Moller will be Flight No. 2 and No. 3 singles players, respectively. Platt will be No. 5 in the singles lineup, while Mastel is again at No. 6 singles.

In the doubles lineup, Huber and Stahle will be the No. 1 team. Moller/Reynolds (Flight 2) and Degen/Mastel (Flight 3) round out the doubles lineups.

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“So our lineup is going to look a lot the same as it did last year,” coach Moller said. “Our girls are playing at a higher level than they were last year. I just really look forward to giving them that opportunity to show off their skill.”

The Kernels will open the season Tuesday at a triangular in Aberdeen against Aberdeen Roncalli and Huron.

Related Topics: TENNIS
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