PREP TENNIS: Cardinals get revenge against WorthingtonWORTHINGTON — Sometimes, Michael Graff feels old.
By: Aaron Hagen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Sometimes, Michael Graff feels old.
But in Tuesday’s boys’ tennis meet, it was the youth of the Luverne team that came through as the Cardinals exacted a little revenge.
“It’s definitely motivation for us because we have a young team,” Graff said while watching as Luverne put the finishing touches on a 5-2 victory against Worthington. “We have a lot of young players. It’s exciting that they’re stepping up and we can all play together well and get along and do what we need to do.”
Against the Trojans, Luverne had a lineup which featured two seniors and one junior.
“I actually do (feel old),” Graff said. “It’s strange. It seems like just yesterday I was the little sophomore kid on the team. We lost nine seniors my sophomore year, coming into my junior year. I definitely feel old, but it’s all right.”
In Graff’s last meet, he was on the wrong side of two three-set matches. He was determined not to let that happen again on Tuesday, despite having to deal with a short weather delay in the middle of his match.
“We kind of had the same thing,” Graff said. “It rained and we had to stop. I went three sets twice and I ended up losing them both. I used that to kind of motivate myself (Tuesday). Actually, Shane (Pedersen) is a better player than the kid I lost to (Monday), so that made me feel good about myself.”
Graff won the first set 6-2.
“I was hitting good passing shots and I was keeping him from the net,” he said. “My net play was better. But we had a lot of deuce games in the first set, which I came out on top, so that helped me get the large margin on the victory.”
But Pedersen came back with a 6-4 victory in the second set.
But as the two were beginning their third set, the skies opened and the Cardinals took shelter at the YMCA.
“When you’re playing good, you never want to stop,” Luverne head coach Greg Antoine said. “It’s just like anything else, and when you’re playing bad, you want to take a break because it might change. We were on top and I didn’t know how they were going to respond. They came out and still wanted to play.”
As the teams were waiting out the weather, the match score was knotted at 1-all.
Luverne’s Nathan Stensland-Bos and Ethan Johnson had just defeated Kyle Hain and Cody Reese, 6-4, 7-5 at No. 3 doubles.
“There were a few points we did well and a few points that we didn’t,” Stensland-Bos said from the Worthington Area YMCA lobby. “We tried to stay positive.
“My serves were pretty consistent. They weren’t that fast, but I got them in.”
While others still had to go play, Stensland-Bos and Johnson were able to relax, knowing they gave their team a key point.
“We finished just in time,” Stensland-Bos said. “We shook hands and Worthington’s coach (Mike Marquardt) said to go and get your scores. So we finished just in time.”
Dan Wetering had given the Trojans a victory at No. 2 singles.
He defeated Joel Wohnoutka 6-4, 6-4, and was the first one off the courts.
“I just hit my shots well and adjusted a lot because it was windy,” Wetering said. “A lot of conditions came in, but I hit my shots and served pretty well. I just hustled.”
He, too, was glad to be done before the delay.
“If I took a break off, it would be a lot different,” Wetering said. “I wouldn’t be into it and it’s pretty cold. The weather isn’t as good.”
Wetering could only sit and watch as Luverne won four of the last five matches.
“I told the kids before the match that this is big,” Antoine said, pointing to Worthington’s 4-3 victory on April 20. “If we can beat them, we might get seeded No. 1 and if we don’t, we’re not.”
“You don’t know how much pressure to put on them because they are pretty young kids. They just all played well. Up and down the lineup, they all came out and played hard and got ahead. In tennis, when you get ahead, you don’t have to push so much.”
Graff and Pedersen resumed their match again as the Cardinal won the third set 6-2.
“Just the break in-between sets I just got more mentally focused, and knew that I had to get it,” Graff said. “The scores when we finished, we were tied 1-1, so this was a pretty important match. I knew I needed a victory.”
Worthington’s other victory came at No. 2 doubles.
David Sorensen and Zach Nerem defeated Dustin Deutsch and Blake Ziegler 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3).
Luverne’s Joey Vajgrt defeated Dayton Williamson 6-0, 6-1 at No. 1 singles, while Cardinal Scott Nelson edged Florian Meier 6-1, 6-4 at No. 4.
“Florian really stepped up and really had a nice match,” Marquardt said. “He really hit the ball well and that was nice to see.”
Jonny Vajgrt and Nick Sandager, Luverne’s other senior, defeated Taylor Wiener and Mitchell Benson 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-2) at No. 1 doubles as the Cardinals went on to a 5-2 victory.
“Luverne came out very strong in the beginning,” Marquardt said. “We started to get in a rhythm and we just kept battling. We were just out of sync and we never got back in. I know we can play better. Against a big rival, we should be able to do better.”
Luverne (10-4) will host Pipestone Area on Thursday, while WHS (7-2) will travel to Blue Earth on Friday.
“Hopefully this will open our eyes a little bit,” Marquardt said. “We’ll fine-tune our practices and take care of our mistakes that we made.
“We still have some hard-fought battles left. I really want to end the season on a positive note. We started with a bang and I want to finish with a bang.”