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WHS tennis players Andrew Johnson (left) and Carter Lindner qualified for the state tennis tournament Tuesday after placing second in Section 3A.

Section tennis: Luverne, Worthington send doubles duos to state

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Section tennis: Luverne, Worthington send doubles duos to state
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

REDWOOD FALLS -- For most of the 2013 spring boys tennis season, Luverne's Joey and Jonny Vajgrt dominated their high school rivals in singles matches while Worthington's Andrew Johnson and Carter Lindner also toiled as individuals.

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But in sectional play, two became one. And as a result of Tuesday's performances in the Singles/Doubles Individual Tournament in Redwood Falls, all four will be going to state as part of a duo.

The Vajgrts qualified for the state tournament as champions. Johnson and Lindner qualified by virtue of a second place finish.

In semifinal action Tuesday, Joey (a senior) and Jonny (a junior) defeated Worthington's Dillon Pederson and A.J. Hayenga on identical 6-1, 6-1 scores. Meanwhile, the Trojans' Johnson (a sophomore) and Lindner (a junior) defeated Luverne's Scott Nelson and Blake Ziegler 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

In the championship match, the Vajgrts prevailed 6-4, 6-2.

In a third-place match, Nelson and Ziegler defeated Pederson and Hayenga 7-5, 6-4. Because Johnson and Lindner had already defeated Nelson and Ziegler, a true second match was unnecessary.

In other section action, Lac qui Parle's Jess Hansen outplayed Montevideo's Ryan Maroney 6-1, 6-2 for a singles championship. Earlier, in the semifinals, Hansen dispatched Luverne's Andrew Jelken 7-5, 6-1. Jelken had led at one point in the first set, 5-4.

"They played incredible, but they needed to," said a proud WHS head coach Mike Marquardt about Johnson and Lindner. "When you drop a first set in boys tennis, it's tough to come back and win the second and third."

But that's just what the two Trojans did. Marquardt said that in the last two sets he saw Johnson and Lindner improve their footwork, get more aggressive at the net and place their serves better and more consistently. They also finished their points well.

Johnson and Lindner played together in section doubles competition last year and finished third. Tuesday marked just their fourth and fifth times together during the 2013 season, but Marquardt explained that their familiarity from 2012 provided an easy path to compatibility.

"It's a different mentality (from singles). But because they did so well last year, they knew they had the potentiality," Marquardt said.

Luverne, which went undefeated as a team during the regular season, will compete in their first state Class A team match Tuesday against Mound Westonka. The individual tournament is June 6. All the action will be at the Reed-Sweat Family and Tennis Center in Minneapolis.

State tournament tennis is tough, and usually the best teams and individuals hail from places outside Section 3. But Marquardt believes his duo is ready.

"It's a good challenge," he said Tuesday night. "They're ready for a challenge like this."

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