Boys tennis: Trojans optimistic; Luverne angles for return to state
WORTHINGTON — With its doubles team of Carter Lindner and Andrew Johnson motoring all the way to the state boys tennis meet last season, Worthington hopes that with even larger numbers this year it will be able to pick up right where last year ended.
The Trojans finished second in their section last year behind Luverne and hope they can give the perennially tough Cardinals a run for their money this season.
“Everything went well last year but they edged us out for a trip to state,” Worthington head coach Mike Marquardt said. “We have a lot of experience coming back and are capable, so we hope we can push through.”
Worthington has the luxury of 36 athletes out for this year’s team, a number that is up slightly from recent years. The added bodies will do good things for his team, Marquardt said.
“It definitely will help because gentlemen will have to work harder to keep their spots or to advance,” he said.
Lindner and Johnson return as clear team leaders this spring alongside seniors Ben Doeden and Isaac Houselog. In all, the team has three seniors and five juniors.
“That’s our junior and senior corps, if you will,” Marquardt said of Lindner, Johnson, Doeden and Houselog. “I’ll be leaning on them for leadership a little bit more, especially with Carter and Andrew having been to state. They’ll help to show everyone else that ‘this is what it looks like’ and ‘this is what it takes.’”
Worthington has been placed in Section 3A this season, competing against Luverne, Montevideo, Pipestone Area, Yellow Medicine East, Lac Qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd, MACCRAY and Redwood Valley. It will start things off, weather permitting, with a meet in Montevideo on Monday.
“We need to get in a routine, and I hope we get the match in,” Marquardt said. “I hope the transition from indoor practices to meets works. I’m looking for a little bit more consistency so that we can (be steady) and keep up our intensity.”
Pipestone Area enters final season with Gustafson
The Arrows bring a small but experienced squad in for head coach Ed Gustafson’s final season leading them.
Senior Jarod Schiebout will likely come in as his team’s top singles performer, followed by sophomore Trase Lueck. After that, playing spots are up for grabs. In doubles play, juniors Will Smith, Elijah Everson and Chandler Haag will likely lead the team.
Pipestone Area’s first meet will be April 5 in Brookings, S.D. Three days later, the Arrows travel to Worthington to begin conference contention.
Luverne chases fifth trip to state, this time with new players
The Luverne Cardinals have been blessed for many years with quality boys tennis programs. In fact, they’ve reached the state tournament as section champions for the past four years in a row.
Graduating six seniors from last year’s team that finished the regular season 13-0, Luverne will have to work a little bit harder this season to get where it wants to be. Luverne’s half-dozen seniors from last year accounted for 106 match wins, head coach Greg Antoine said.
“I’m excited because we’re going to have to work (hard) to get to state,” Antoine explained. “These guys want to get No. 5 (to get there a fifth time in a row) and prove it wasn’t a fluke with last year’s seniors.”
The Cardinals’ top two singles players will be Jonny Vajgrt and Blake Ziegler, and both are seniors who have been varsity players since seventh grade. Ziegler will be looking for a new doubles partner, after he and Scott Nelson went 18-3 at No. 1 doubles in 2013.
The Cardinals competed last weekend in St. Peter and finished 2-1 in a doubles tournament there. The team hosts Vermillion, S.D. Tuesday.