Mitchell High School boys tennis finishes second at ESD tournament
The Mitchell High School boys tennis team placed second at the Eastern South Dakota Conference tournament Tuesday, winning the Flight 2 and Flight 6 singles championship, along with the Flight 2 doubles championship.
HURON – The Mitchell High School boys tennis team placed second in the Eastern South Dakota Conference boys tennis tournament on Tuesday at the Huron High School Courts.
Mitchell finished with 319 points, 16.5 behind first-place Yankton and 159 points above third-place Aberdeen Central. Brandon Valley had 134.5 points to take fourth place and Watertown ended with 124 points to claim fifth place.
The Kernels’ Tyler Loecker won the Flight 2 singles championship while Luke Jerke won the Flight 6 singles championship. Mitchell’s Aidan Patrick and Drake Jerke were also crowned champions in the Flight 2 doubles tournament.
“I was proud of the boys, but I think if you ask them they'd be pretty disappointed with the team outcome,” Mitchell head coach Pat Moller said. “When you play tennis in Mitchell, the expectations are pretty high and we went into the tournament expecting to win but it was a fight with Yankton to the end. Overall, we won more matches than we lost and we played at a high level so I’m proud.”
Loecker scored a pair of victories, 10-4 over Aberdeen Central’s Ian Ahlberg and 10-8 against Harrisburg’s Maverik Ragon, to advance to the championship round against Pierre’s Blake Judson. Loecker beat Judson 10-9(1) to earn the Flight 2 singles crown.
Luke Jerke took down Pierre’s Carter Schulz 10-1 in round one, followed by a semifinal win against Harrisburg’s Koleton Anderson 10-8, to reach the Flight 6 championship. Jerke would later beat Yankton’s Miles Krajewski 10-8 in the championship round.
In Flight 2 doubles, Aidan Patrick and Drake Jerke had their closest round of the evening in round one against Pierre’s Like Leingang and Spencer Kelly. Patrick and Jerke would win round one 10-8 and would also win the semifinal round 10-6 against Harrisburg’s Maverik Ragon and Brayden Rausch. In the championship match, Patrick and Jerke took down Aberdeen Central’s Mitchell Hofer and Anderson Prehn 10-7 to claim the Flight 2 doubles crown.
“Compared to last year where we didn’t win any singles or doubles championships, we knew this year was our opportunity to improve and we certainly did that,” Moller said. “Loecker winning that singles title was pretty impressive and throughout our lineup, we finished above our seed in a lot of different places and that’s just a testament to the entire team.”
Throughout the rest of the tournament, Mitchell had runner-up finishes in Flight 1 and 3 singles, while placing third in Flight 5 singles, and Flight 1 and 3 doubles.
Macon Larson reached the finals in Flight 1 singles, defeating Brandon Valley’s Cole Murray 10-6 and then topping Harrisburg’s Alex Rallis 10-5 in the semifinals. Larson would fall in the No. 1 singles championship 10-4 to Yankton’s Gage Becker.
Patrick won back-to-back matches against Watertown’s Evan Meester 10-4 in the first round and Brandon Valley’s Eli Woidyla 10-6 in the semifinals to reach the Flight 3 singles championship. Patrick fell to Yankton’s Zac Briggs 10-2 in the championship match.
Josh Grosdidier won in the first round of the Flight 5 singles bracket with a 10-2 win over Huron’s Lah Doh Soe. After losing to Watertown’s Jadon Linder 10-8 in the semifinals, Grosdidier rebounded with a 8-1 victory in the third-place match against Pierre’s Spencer Kelly.
Jack Vermeulen won the first round of the No. 4 singles bracket 10-2 against Huron’s Lauy Kue Say. Vermeulen would lose back-to-back matches against Yankton’s Harrison Krajewski 10-6 and Brandon Valley’s Gibsen Eszlinger 10-4 to place fourth.
Larson and Loecker earned a third-place finish in Flight 1 doubles after beating Brandon Valley’s Cole Murray and Eli Woidyla 8-5 in the third-place match. Vermeulen and Connor Thelen earned a third-place finish as well in Flight 3 doubles, beating Brandon Valley’s Gibsen Eszlinger and Henry Wright 8-3 in the third-place match.
“In singles play, we have to win the big points,” Moller said. “I thought in ESD we got in trouble because we lost a lot of deuce points. We just lost some points that were critical to the match and with the veteran team that we have, we just have to elevate our play in certain moments. … If we want to get over the hump against Yankton, since we’ll be seeing them again at the state tournament, we’re going to have to win those big points.”
Mitchell now moves on to the Class A state tournament on May 16-17 at Sioux Park in Rapid City.