Area boys' tennis teams set to swing into new season

WORTHINGTON -- Despite early spring snow showers preventing the players from getting out on the courts, area boys' teams are chomping at the bit to begin the Southwest Conference tennis season.

WORTHINGTON -- Despite early spring snow showers preventing the players from getting out on the courts, area boys' teams are chomping at the bit to begin the Southwest Conference tennis season.

Here's a brief look at the teams and how they'll match up this year.

Worthington Trojans

Worthington head coach Mike Marquardt is excited for the season to begin and believes his squad should be in the hunt for a conference title and possibly send a few players to the state tournament.

"We have a strong group back this season and will have strong players at the top of the singles and doubles competition," Marquardt said. "We're hoping that we won't have to spend too much time on fundamentals and be able to work on fine tuning and chemistry."


At No. 1 singles, senior Danny Penaredondo is expected to lead the Trojans with his play and attitude.

Penaredondo has the ground strokes and is ready to take it to the next level.

"Mental toughness is becoming one of his strengths," Marquardt said of Penaredondo. "He's in a position where he feels comfortable in any situation. He's got all aspects of the game covered. Now, he's just got to go out there with a good attitude and play his game."

Another senior, Alex Stewart, will compete at No. 2 singles for the Trojans. Stewart spent the majority of last year playing doubles and will have to make the adjustments to the singles game.

"Alex loves to volley, and in doubles, he's doing that a lot," Marquardt said. "In singles, it's great to get up to the net and volley -- if you can get up there. Otherwise, it's ground strokes. Alex has good ground strokes, but he's used to playing on half the space. He has great control; it's just that the rallies are going to go that much longer. So, he'll have to make those adjustments."

Three or four players will be in the mix to secure the Nos. 3 and 4 singles spots for the Trojans. Nezir Barden, John Shepherd and Alex Ling will have to battle it out in practice to see who will be in the lineup each week.

"At 3 and 4, you're still getting into some long rallies, so consistency will be a key," Marquardt said. "All of these players have good ground strokes. Now, they'll have to work on setting up ways to finish points."

At No. 1 doubles, Marquardt has an experienced tandem in Tim Roos and Adam Vosburgh.


"This team really doesn't have a weakness," Marquardt said. "Roos is a real go-getter, tough on serves, plays an aggressive style and knows how to finish off points. Vosburgh is really coming around, is very consistent serving, is excellent at the net and is very quick. The main thing they'll have to do is develop chemistry."

The teams of Mitchell Benson and Mitchell Wiener, and David Sorenson and Dayton Williamson are expected to battle it out for the Nos. 2 and 3 doubles slots.

"Benson and Wiener both have natural ability," Marquardt said. "They will have to learn to battle the ups and downs of a match and stay in the match mentally.

"Again, there's a lot of ability with this team," Marquardt added. "David is very consistent, and that should help Dayton a bit, because he's always the first to take the risk. It should be a good balance of styles."

Still looking to find his way into the lineup is John Thammavongsa.

"John has good speed and is really a scrappy player; he gets to every ball," Marquardt said. "John has a great attitude and is leaning toward the doubles. Now, he'll have to find a partner and get to work."

With a gifted and well-conditioned roster, the Trojans are looking to be an aggressive team this spring.

"We're going to go after it this season," Marquardt said. "You can't just tap it over in this conference. So, if we're only getting second serves in, sometimes we're going to hit those like first serves. Going after it is going to be how we approach things."


Luverne Cardinals

With a senior-laden squad this year, the Cardinals look to be the team to beat in the Southwest Conference. The Cardinals have eight seniors, and the battles within the team might be as fierce as any dual match.

"Our goal is to get back to state," Luverne head coach Greg Antoine said. "If we play up to our capabilities, we're going to be tough to beat."

A pair of exchange students, Sebastian Sousa Soares and Diego Federsffield, should strengthen an already potent lineup.

"They're going to make a difference," Antoine said. "They're both very good singles players -- top of the line."

Both seniors, Sousa Soares and Federsffield will battle it out for supremacy with another senior, Zach Sanderson, for the top three singles positions.

"I really don't know exactly where the 1, 2 and 3 singles players will line up specifically until some warmer weather allows us to have some challenge matches, but it's a good problem to have," Antoine said.

Senior Eric Stegemann will likely play at No. 4 singles and could see some time at No. 1 doubles with either Weston Sawtelle or Matt Kreuch.


"Eric and Matt want to try No. 4 singles," Antoine said. "The other one will probably be at No. 1 doubles with Weston. The Nos. 2 and 3 doubles will be very competitive."

At No. 2 doubles, Antoine is looking for junior Austin Lee to pair up with either Jamie Vickery (senior) or Dalton Gath (senior), while sophomores Michael Graff and Nick Sandager will also be in the mix as doubles players.

Freshman Joel Wohnoutka could see time at singles (No. 4) or at doubles (No. 2).

Gaining some experience on the junior varsity will be freshmen Marco Gacke, Dylan Stokes, Brandon Bosch, Matt Engesser and Matt Niessink.

Pipestone Area Arrows

The Arrows will have to fill the spots left by two of their top graduating seniors, Jamie Gustafson and David Janssen, but with a lineup that features 11 juniors, the Arrows will look to gain experience for the future.

"We're hoping to gain a lot of experience this season," PA head coach Ed Gustafson said. "Hopefully, we'll be competitive."

Juniors Paul Prunty and Bryce DeWilde, and sophomore Joel Eeten will likely fill the Nos. 1-3 singles positions, while the fourth spot is up for grabs between Spencer Kruse and Aaron Dunn.


In doubles competition, Ryan Delaney, Jamie Lammars, Austin Faber and Jared Vanderpoel are looking to break into the Nos. 1 and 2 slots, while Shelby Jones and Matt Griebal could comprise the No. 3 doubles team.

Alex Curry, Braden Wathan, Dylan Stage and Ethan Conrad will look to gain experience and break into the lineup as dictated by their play.

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