The Mitchell Junior Tennis Classic is a staple each summer and it returned to Hitchcock Park yet again, Friday through Sunday.
Twenty-six Mitchell players comprised more than half of the 51-player field-ranging from 12 to 18 years old-and it was evident in the standings, with eight championships out of the 14 divisions.
Participants were slightly down from 54 last year, but Mitchell High School head coach Pat Moller attributes some of that to tournaments being held in Rapid City and Sioux Falls simultaneously.
"(United States Tennis Association) numbers for summer tournaments have been down, so we're fighting that trend," Moller said. "We had 26 Mitchell kids here, so that helped out and it's nice to have some of the other local kids participate in our tournament."
At the end of the weekend, Moller was pleased with the tournament, particularly in the quality of play. Nine matches went to three sets during the course of the tournament.
"Just giving the kids an opportunity to go out and play and love tennis is good," Moller said. "The Mitchell kids represented us well, as well."
Mitchell's Ashley Jones captured the 18-year-old girls singles division, besting Josie Smith (Sioux Falls) and Mitchell's Kelsey Dahme in a round robin series. Jones defeated Smith, 4-6, 6-0, 10-5, and Dahme, 6-3, 6-3.
In an all-Mitchell final in the 14-year-old girls singles division, Michaela Jerke swept Amber Moller in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0. Jerke and Moller also teamed up to beat another Mitchell tandem of Megan Mastel and Kamryn Thelen in the 14 doubles final, 6-2, 6-2.
Moller also captured the mixed doubles championship with Kaden Jerke, defeating Jones and Tyler Loecker, 8-6.
Kaden Jerke and Kade Clark topped Harrisburg's Desmond Looft and Aidan O'Hara, 6-1, 6-2, in the 18 doubles final. In 16 doubles, Loecker and Aidan Patrick beat Mitchell's Marcus Halling and Connor Thelen, 6-1, 5-7, 13-11.
Clark went 3-0 without losing a set to win the 18 singles round robin division.
The Mitchell duo of Drake Jerke and Jacob Morgans topped Sioux Falls' Isaac Donelan and Arthur Tao in the 14 doubles final, 6-3, 7-5. Doneland edged Morgans for the 14 singles final.
Despite Mitchell's success, Moller opted to focus on his duties as the tournament director and let the kids play for fun.
"Sometimes kids can get over-coached," Moller said, "and as a coach and a tournament director, I gotta remember that this is a game and the kids have to go out and have fun. That's what it's all about."