Kernels stand in seventh place at state girls tennis
RAPID CITY -- On day one of the South Dakota State Girls Tennis Tournament, the Mitchell Kernels held true to seed, winning all of the matches they were favored to win.
RAPID CITY - On day one of the South Dakota State Girls Tennis Tournament, the Mitchell Kernels held true to seed, winning all of the matches they were favored to win.
In seventh place in the field of 22 teams, now on the second day of the three-day tournament grind, the Kernels would like to pull a few upsets of their own today.
"We won all the matches we were supposed to win. We're playing to our seeds," MHS coach Pat Moller said. "Hopefully, we can win a couple of matches (today) that we're not supposed to win."
The Kernels scored 208 points out of a possible 300 on the first day, standing behind a four-way team tie for the tournament lead. Defending champion St. Thomas More, Rapid City Stevens, Sioux Falls Lincoln and Eastern South Dakota conference champion Watertown are all tied after the first day.
Mitchell's top three players in singles action-Sammy Pooley, Avery Larson and Kelsey Dahme-each took advantage of byes and won their second round matches to set up quarterfinal tilts today. Pooley, in particular, won 6-0, 6-0 and Dahme was a 6-2, 6-0 winner in the second round. Kaihlen Smith and Madison Bohlen both won first-round matches before being defeated in the second round and sent to the consolation bracket, where both will be favored to advance today. Ashley Jones battled Rima Jamous, of Sioux Falls O'Gorman at No. 5 singles and lost in a second-set tiebreaker in the second round. Moller said it was one of Jones' best matches of the season.
"Those kids at No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 singles, they have a chance to get us some very important points today and I'm looking forward to seeing them play," Moller said.
In doubles play, Pooley/Larson at No. 1 and Dahme/Smith at No. 2 are both in the quarterfinals. Jones/Bohlen will play in the consolation round after a second-round loss.
That was despite weather that hovered in the high 30s all day and even brought along some light snow in the early part of the day.
"It was very cold and it didn't warm up hardly at all. There was a light breeze but on a day like that, it's just going to cut right through you," Moller said.
Moller added that the Kernels' Avera sports medicine personnel brought along a heated tent with sides to it, which was a nice amenity on a tough weather day.
"That was an advantage," Moller said. "And we wanted the cold to be a disadvantage for the opposition."
Moller said he hopes the Kernels can break seed today and win some matches against quality opponents today.
"When you're the underdog, you should be able to play loose," he said. "Hopefully, you get your opponent to start thinking about losing. That goes a long ways toward getting it done."