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Trojan tennis team experienced and anxious to improve

With many seniors on the squad, the Worthington High School boys tennis team is stocked with leadership

Trojans
Trojans

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington High School boys tennis team is having a senior moment.

And it’s a good thing, as nearly a dozen 12th-graders adorn the 2022 spring racket team. Veteran head coach Mike Marquardt enjoys the fact that he’s got solid leadership on the squad, and that the younger and more inexperienced players will be able to find a senior who they can relate to for style.

All the tennis players -- seniors included -- are highly coachable and know what Marquardt and assistant Matt Fletcher have for expectations.

Worthington Trojans boys returning letterwinners  tennis (front row from left) Evan Hansberger, Jacob Ahrenstorff,  Alec Langerud, Ian Barber, Ezra Bonnett, Casey Salinas (back row) Tyson Henkels, Quentin Burns, Steven Adams, Matthew Becker and Levi Kuhl.
Worthington Trojans returning letter winners for boys tennis are (front row, from left) Evan Hansberger, Jacob Ahrenstorff, Alec Langerud, Ian Barber, Ezra Bonnett, Casey Salinas, (back row) Tyson Henkels, Quentin Burns, Steven Adams, Matthew Becker and Levi Kuhl.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

“They want to do well, and they want to improve every day. I don’t know how you can ask for anything more than that,” Marquardt said.

A senior and a sophomore will contend for the No. 1 singles position. Both the senior, Alec Langerud, and the sophomore, Ian Barber, are experienced players. Langerud is probably the more aggressive of the two, both in serving and in his ground strokes. Barber is described by Marquardt as consistent and motivated.

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Sophomore Ezra Bonnett is the likely choice for No. 3 singles. A left-hander, he has excellent control and consistency, and always arrives with a positive attitude. Senior David Sternke is likely to get playing time at No. 4 singles. Sternke is making the transition from doubles to singles and knows how to finish points at the net. He is also good at the service line.

There is much jockeying for position in the doubles ranks. Seniors Levi Kuhl, Jake Ahrenstorff, Quentin Burns, Tyson Henkels, Steven Adams and Matthew Becker might be the first group in line, and they’re all comparable in ability.

“They’re as close of a top six as I’ve ever come across. It’s going to depend on the day,” Marquardt said.

Other doubles candidates include juniors Lance Gordon and Evan Hansberger, and seniors Austin Barber and Casey Salinas.

Generally, said the coach, the doubles candidates are consistent servers. They don’t produce heavy topspin, but they’re good at placement. They know how to play the net.

“They’re not afraid to go after the ball,” said Marquardt.

Worthington will have its first scheduled tennis outing on Saturday, April 9 at home for the Worthington Invitational, featuring the Trojans, Laq qui Parle Valley, Pipestone Area and Yellow Medicine East.

Season goals are set high. Marquardt hopes his team can finish among the top two in the Big South Conference.

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But to do so, they’ll have to play with a focus.

“You still gotta work on fundamentals, but we work on situational tennis,” Marquardt said.

That includes, for some players, learning how to play when things aren’t going according to plan. And for other players, finishing points when things are going well.

It’s about playing smart. The coaching staff will attempt to help players understand what they’re struggling with, and to make necessary in-match adjustments.

The biggest challenge, Marquardt believes, is dealing with the short ball. Players need to learn how to put pressure on opponents, to move them around the court and to avoid letting them off the hook when rivals feed them a weak shot.

“You have to keep your foot on the gas,” Marquardt said.

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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