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Trojan Boys Tennis: Trojans advance to semifinals

DOUG WOLTER/DAILY GLOBE Gray skies loom overhead as Worthington High School tennis player Kody Honius waits patiently while partner Isaac Houselog serves in their Section 3A No. 2 doubles match Monday. The WHS pair won in three sets against Lac qui Parle Valley's Hunter Olson and Trevor Sigedahl, 7-5, 4-6, 6-0.

WORTHINGTON -- It was a longshot, but it may have been the Eagles' only option if an upset were to happen Monday in their Section 3A boys tennis showdown against Worthington.

Lac qui Parle Valley adjusted its lineup to strengthen its doubles entries, hoping a victory at No. 1 singles would mesh with a sweep of the doubles events to give the underdogs an unexpected pass into the tournament's second round.

The plan, however, went awry. Lac qui Parle Valley did, indeed, win at first singles as outstanding freshman Jess Hansen blanked the Trojans' Carter Lindner 6-0, 6-0. But Worthington won every other match -- including all three doubles competitions -- en route to a 6-1 victory.

Worthington, seeded No. 2 in the tournament, will face MACCRAY today at 2 p.m. in Redwood Falls. The winner of that match will play for the section championship later today.

In their match against Lac qui Parle Valley, Worthington made short work of things at second, third and fourth singles. At No. 2 singles, Andrew Johnson rolled past the Eagles' Eli Weber 6-0, 6-0. At No. 3 singles, A.J. Hayenga defeated Cody McKesson 6-0, 6-0. And at No. 4 singles, Ben Doeden was a 6-0, 6-0 winner over Lac qui Parle Valley's Mark Thompson.

All three doubles matches were tighter, but all three went Worthington's way in the end. At No. 1 doubles, the Trojans' Dillon Pederson and Nick Newman bested Keith Abraham and Kain Matthies 6-2, 6-2. At No. 3 doubles, Bryan Doeden and Levi Blanchard defeated Conrad Matthies and Ryan Borstad 6-4, 6-4.

The tightest -- and most unusual -- match of the day occurred at No. 2 doubles where Worthington's Isaac Houselog and Kody Honius locked up with Lac qui Parle Valley's Hunter Olson and Trevor Sigdahl. Houselog and Honius spotted Olson and Sigdahl a 5-2 lead in the first set before coming back to win it, 7-5. In the second set, the Eagles' duo again jumped out to a 5-2 lead, and this time held on to win 6-4. It wasn't until the third set that Houselog and Honius assumed control and kept it, winning 6-0.

"We had a slow start and gave them momentum," said WHS head coach Mike Marquardt, who said it all comes down to execution. Houselog and Honius, who are pairing together for the first time this year, did a good job of poaching at the net. Where they ran into difficulty was when they stopped being consistent at it.

Asked later what they learned in the match, the Worthington pair was quick to answer.

"We learned to stay active at the net," said Houselog.

"And to not give up. To keep going," added Honius.

Honius said he and his partner gave Olson and Sigdahl "too many easy shots," but when they recovered their focus they were able to stay strong in the final set.

"Me and Kody finally got in our groove. Kept our morale pretty good," Houselog said.

Marquardt praised his No. 1 singles player, Lindner, for setting up well at the net against the young star, Hansen, and for finishing his shots. The score, he said, didn't reflect how well Lindner played.

While Houselog and Honius wound down the third set in the final match of the day, Marquart still didn't know if his Trojans would be playing MACCRAY or Pipestone Area in their next match. WHS has beaten both rivals already this year.

"We have to be ready for both teams. I like where we stand against both teams," he said. "If we play within ourselves, I think we'll be just fine."

In exhibition matches Monday, Worthington's Caleb Dirksen and D.J. Berger won 8-6 in doubles and Jonah McDonald won 8-1 at singles.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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