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Kernel tennis stays in title hunt heading to final day

RAPID CITY -- The Mitchell High School boys tennis team didn't wither away Friday when the tough matches arrived for the Kernels at the South Dakota State Boys Tennis Tournament.

Mitchell's Gray Determan returns a shot during a match at the South Dakota State Tennis Tournament Friday at Sioux Park in Rapid City. (Photo courtesy of South Dakota Public Broadcasting)
Mitchell's Gray Determan returns a shot during a match at the South Dakota State Tennis Tournament Friday at Sioux Park in Rapid City. (Photo courtesy of South Dakota Public Broadcasting)

RAPID CITY - The Mitchell High School boys tennis team didn't wither away Friday when the tough matches arrived for the Kernels at the South Dakota State Boys Tennis Tournament.

Instead, Mitchell grabbed some big wins and is in the hunt for another top finish at the state tournament, with an outside chance at the state team championship.

All three doubles teams are in the championship semifinals and the Kernels have three singles players in the semifinal rounds as the final day approaches today at the state tournament in Rapid City.

The Kernels are third in the team standings with 405 points, one point behind second-place Sioux Falls O'Gorman, as the Knights have 406 points. Both teams are behind two-time defending champions Sioux Falls Lincoln, which has a perfect score to this point - 450 points.

Mitchell coach Pat Moller said he couldn't be more proud of his team for coming through with important victories and playing their best tennis at the end of the year.

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"They're just believing in what we've been talking about all year," he said. "We belong in the conversation with the state's best. They're buying in and they believe it."

Mitchell's big wins at doubles began at No. 1 where Alex Hegg and Jacob Dahme - both of whom were eliminated from title contention in singles play in tough losses - managed to top third-seeded Cade Damgaard and Jake Moran of Sioux Falls O'Gorman, 6-4, 2-6, 10-7.

"It's a fairly big win," Moller said. "They both played so well and they showed a ton of heart and character. I think it's the theme of our day."

Gray Determan and Carter Cavanaugh at No. 2 doubles and Jared Suelflow and Baley Miller at No. 3 doubles each won quarterfinal matches that had first-set tiebreakers and then went on to win in straight sets.

It's the doubles matches that give Mitchell and outside chance of winning the school's first state championship in boys tennis. It would require Mitchell winning all three doubles championships and winning matches against Lincoln and O'Gorman in the process.

"We're still in the hunt for the title," Moller said. "It's not an easy task but it's not impossible."

In singles play, the youth carried the day for Mitchell. Cavanaugh, Suelflow and Adam Loes won strongly in straight sets for the Kernels at No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 singles.

"They're not playing like it's their first state tournament," Moller said. "To carry us in the when our juniors and seniors faltered a little bit, that's a huge thing to have."

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The Kernels' top singles players went down early, with Dahme losing the toughest of the matches. Salil Purandare, of Brookings, denied Dahme on five match point chances and rallied to win 5-7, 7-5, 11-9 at No. 2. Hegg, Dahme and Determan all can win fifth place today in their respective brackets.

"As the day wore on and our guys continued to fight, I think we earned a lot of respect and a lot of fans in the tennis community around the state for the way we were able to play and compete," Moller said.

NOTES: Friday's action included a three-hour rain delay, pushing some action indoors and then playing the championship quarterfinals outdoors after water had been cleared off the courts.

South Dakota State Boys Tennis Tournament

Day Two - Friday - Rapid City

Team scores (top 10): 1. Sioux Falls Lincoln 450, 2. Sioux Falls O'Gorman 406, 3. Mitchell 405, 4. Rapid City Stevens 332, 5. SF Washington 312.5, 6. Aberdeen Central 296, 7. St. Thomas More 265, 8. SF Roosevelt 253, 9. Brookings 237, 10. Brandon Valley 219.

Mitchell individual results:

Singles: No. 1 - Alex Hegg: Quarterfinals: Jesse Margolles, ABC, def. Hegg, 6-1, 6-4; Fifth-place semifinals: Hegg def. Kevin Shan, MAD, 10-7. No. 2 - Jacob Dahme: Quarterfinals: Salil Purandare, BRK, def. Dahme, 5-7, 7-5, 11-9; Fifth-place semifinals: Dahme def. Nicholas Lust, STM, 10-7. No. 3 - Gray Determan: Quarterfinals: Jonah Dobbs, BRK, def. Determan, 6-1, 6-2; Fifth-place semifinals: Determan def. Gabe Swanson, ABC, 10-3. No. 4 - Carter Cavanaugh: Quarterfinals: Cavanaugh def. Ryan Morgans, SFW, 6-2, 6-3. No. 5 - Jared Suelflow: Quarterfinals: Suelflow def. Lucas Goetz, ABR, 6-3, 6-4. No. 6 - Adam Loes: Quarterfinals: Loes def. Michael Tang, RCS, 6-3, 6-1.

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Doubles: No. 1 - Hegg/Dahme: Quarterfinals: Hegg/Dahme def. Cade Damgaard and Jake Moran, SFO, 6-4, 2-6, 10-7; No. 2 - Determan/Cavanaugh: Quarterfinals: Determan/Cavanaugh def. Ben Anderson and Jackson Ellis, RCS, 7-6(5), 6-3; No. 3 - Suelflow and Baley Miller: Quarterfinals: Suelflow/Miller def. Dylan Bader and Andrew Hartze, ABC, 7-6(1), 6-1.

Mitchell High School's Alex Hegg returns the ball while playing against Jesse Margolies of Aberdeen Central High School during Friday's state tennis third round match at Sioux Park in Rapid City. (Josh Morgan/Rapid City Journal)
Mitchell High School's Alex Hegg returns the ball while playing against Jesse Margolies of Aberdeen Central High School during Friday's state tennis third round match at Sioux Park in Rapid City. (Josh Morgan/Rapid City Journal)

Related Topics: KERNELSTENNIS
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