Langerud, Barber, vying for No. 1 singles, team up for doubles
WORTHINGTON -- Two Worthington Trojan tennis players who are vying for No. 1 singles this spring teamed up for No. 1 doubles Saturday in the WHS Invitational tournament. The senior, Alec “Picasso” Langerud, and the sophomore, Ian Barber, whose on-court rivalry is always friendly, enjoyed their partnership in the doubles-only tourney at the Worthington middle school courts.
Saturday’s tournament was a round-robin affair, as doubles partners from Worthington, Pipestone Area, Yellow Medicine East and Lac qui Parle Valley played one set each against all the other doubles teams, moving from court to court on a sunny day under calm conditions.
WHS head coach Mike Marquardt and assistant Matt Fletcher spent most of the tournament standing behind a table where tournament court and scheduling assignments were posted. Anyone else, looking at it, would think it was rocket science. Fletcher called the chart “the matrix.”
For the Trojans, it was their first meet of the season, and Langerud and Barber performed well together.
Which one will wind up at No. 1 singles? And which will be at No. 2? Soon they’ll both find out.
“I would love the No. 1 singles spot, but that’s quite the battle now,” said Langerud.
“We had our first challenge match. It’s nothing that we’re going to base the bracket off of. I won that, but that happened last year at the beginning of the season, too,” said Barber. “As a sophomore I don’t care where I’m playing, I just want to play. He’s a senior and he’s a very aggressive player. I’m more of a defensive baseline player.”
Langerud was penciled in at the first singles spot a year ago, but he missed 10 days early in the year while having to quarantine for Covid.
Yes, he said, he likes to be aggressive on the court.
“I like to take my chances. It’s kind of a combination of getting into an opponent’s mind and improving your confidence,” he explained.
On Saturday, Langerud made many strong kill shots at the net. Barber’s winners were more of the finesse variety.
“This year I improved a lot on my serves,” Barber said. “I’ve improved in my power. I’ve gotten more confidence in my groundstrokes and been able to place them better, and when I run cross country there’s that adrenaline high, and I get a runner’s high. I love the game. It’s super fun to play, and our culture on the team is really fun, too.”
Until Saturday, the Trojan tennis players had been spending most of their time indoors -- which, of course, limits their ability to get ready for meets and tournaments. Langerud and Barber’s opportunities to play as doubles partners has been limited, too, but their natural abilities meshed in the invitational meet.
They looked the part of doubles partners, too, both wearing white T-shirts over red shorts with white scarf headbands -- channeling the Karate Kid, or maybe Samurai warriors.
“We like to play at the net -- hit ‘em hard, good placement. When I play doubles I like (the net),” said Barber. “Alec likes to play the net, play the angles, be aggressive. You can call him Picasso, because he likes to paint the lines.”