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Court sense: Trojans Bonnett, Barber and teammates putting their intellects to work on the tennis squad

Ezra Bonnett is a bender. He’s also left-handed, which frustrates opponents who must try and solve his spin serves and unnatural ball rotations.

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Worthington Trojans Levi Kuhl moves towards the net to return a volley as teammate David Steinke (far left) watches during play against MACCRAY Wolverines Brogan Harguth (shone) and Andrew Janssen in number one doubles during section meet at the Worthington middle school Monday afternoon 05 24 21. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- Ezra Bonnett is a bender. He’s also left-handed, which frustrates opponents who must try and solve his spin serves and unnatural ball rotations.

On Monday, the sophomore spun his way to a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Brent Rasset at No. 4 singles as the Worthington Trojans boys tennis team shut out MACCRAY 7-0 at the middle school courts. The match was a first-round Section 3A team contest and it advanced the Trojans to the section semifinals Tuesday at Redwood Falls, where the finals were also to be played on the same day.

“It felt really smooth today,” said Bonnett of his win on a hot, breezy Monday. “I was able to kind of take some risky shots. And honestly, I’m pretty used to the wind. That’s the one thing about playing in Worthington, you get used to the wind right away.”

As a left-handed player, Bonnett enjoys an edge against right-handers that you’d have to be a lefty to understand. Though he says he’s still trying to build on his power, he’s satisfied to use finesse in the knowledge that tennis balls come off a left-hander’s racket differently than they do against their counterparts.

“My forehand, when I hit cross-court, works for me. Players’ backhands tend to be weaker than their forehands. I can attack that side easier,” he explained. “Normally when people are playing against somebody, they feel it’s an advantage to hit it to their backhand. But they’re really hitting it to my forehand.”

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Besides that, Bonnett’s serves are hard for righties to solve. “They kick a different way. There’s a slice to it, it does kind of a spinout,” he said.

Bonnett served well against Rasset. His racket is, in his own words, “super light-weight,” and built for spin.

While Bonnett has learned to embrace his left-handedness, a right-handed teammate -- Ian Barber -- is learning to embrace the game from an intellectual angle. On Monday, the Trojans’ No. 2 singles player easily beat MACCRAY’s Daniel Seehuisen 6-1, 6-0, and it was obvious to any veteran WHS tennis observer that the freshman is making regular improvements as a player. Against Seehuisen, Barber showed off a more consistent serve while displaying good touch at the net from a variety of angles.

“I have a serve now,” he said after the match. “I’ve learned how to serve more topspin. I try to serve hard on my first one, but on the second one I like to put more topspin on it so it will kick out.”

And that’s not all.

“I’ve learned to hit more short cross-court. It makes it hard for the other person to hit it. So when they hit it to where you can hit it better, they’re off the court.”

Barber says he’s “all ears” when it comes to learning something new. In fact, all the Trojans put on impressive displays on Monday against MACCRAY. Every singles player won in straight sets, and the only doubles team to take the courts, Trojans Levi Kuehl and David Sternke, won their match against Brogan Harguth and Andrew Janssen 6-4, 6-4 at the No. 1 spot.

MACCRAY forfeited No. 2 and No. 3 doubles.

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In the other singles matches, Worthington’s Alec Langerud defeated Gabe Sparks 6-2, 6-2 at No. 1, and at No. 3 it was Ben Schrieber outplaying Josiah Seehuisen 6-0, 6-3.

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Worthington Trojans Ben Schrieber playing against MACCRAY Wolverines Josiah Seehusen in number singes 3 gets a fist bump from Head coach Mike Marquardt during section meet at the Worthington middle school Monday afternoon 05 24 21. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

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