A young Mitchell High School boys tennis team made significant strides this season and its future appears bright.
The Kernels claimed seventh place at the state tennis tournament on Saturday in Sioux Falls. Mitchell may have placed higher in 2018 (fourth), but coach Pat Moller deemed this season another success. Mitchell entered the 2019 campaign with some new faces after graduating six seniors from the previous season.
"There aren't a lot of teams that can replace that many players and still place seventh in the state," Moller said. "We were better than 16 other teams. There's a lot of teams there that would have loved to be where we are at. When I take a step back and look at it and decompress, I am awfully proud of where we are at."
And now the future looks bright, as the Kernels will return a bulk of their varsity lineup. Freshman Macon Larson and sophomore Ben Helleloid finished in fifth place in Flight No. 3 doubles.
"They just kept getting better and better and better with every match they played throughout the season and that included right up until the end of the tournament there," Moller said. "They not only won that fifth-place match, they won it in pretty decisive fashion and they were just a point or two away from beating O'Gorman in the quarterfinals, and if they would have won that match, who knows where they went. They just really impressed me and I look forward to their future."
Larson added a sixth-place finish in Flight No. 4 singles and Moller raved about the future of the freshman, saying he's "got that it factor."
"He's going to be a strong force at the top of our lineup in the future," Moller said.
The Kernels will also return juniors Kade Clark, Ryan Bergeson, Max Tupper and Kaden Jerke.
Moller is also just as excited for the younger players coming up and stated how the offseason will be important for their development.
"Hopefully they will take that knowledge and information and use that to improve their game over the summer and ultimately be in a better position for next spring," Moller said.