In sub-50 degree temperatures and overcast skies with a few sprinkles of rain, the Raider boys tennis team opened the 2019 Big Rivers Conference season with a 4-3 win at home over the Menomonie Mustangs Tuesday, April 18.
In what has become a trend for the Raiders this year, they dominated all four singles matches while struggling at doubles. Two of the three doubles matches went to third sets, only to fall Menomonie’s way.
Head coach John Knutson said the Raiders were unstoppable in singles play.
“We won 49 singles games while only giving up seven games total in four matches to sweep the four singles matches,” he noted. “Where we've had our struggles is with the doubles matches, where we still seem to be trying to find some chemistry in combinations of players to find a few wins.”
Mitchell Drost and Lewis Holmberg battled to a 2-6, 6-1, 3-6 loss at No. 2 doubles and Isaac Hennemann and Josh LeCuyer lost 4-6, 6-3, 0-6 at No. 3 while Jack Geurkink and Brett Covey fell 4-6, 4-6 at No. 1.
It didn’t matter however as the Raiders clinched the win by rolling through singles play. Brothers Tyler and Jacob Grosz cruised to 6-0, 6-0 wins at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively, and Luke Johnson won 6-0, 6-1 at No. 3 while Kade Nickerson took a 6-1, 7-5 victory at No. 4.
Next up for the Raiders is a make-up match at Eau Claire Memorial Tuesday, April 23, and Knutson said the team has to do better in doubles.
“While I'm happy to be dominating the singles matches, with our No 1, 2 and 3 singles guys-- all captains of the team-- dominating in their matches, we simply have to find a way to win a few doubles matches, especially in Big Rivers Conference play.”
But despite the struggles, the Raiders are still 8-3 overall on the season, something Knutson is pleasantly surprised by.
“We knew we'd have some work to do with this year's team after graduating six of our top 10 players from last year's team,” he said. “To be 8-3 on the season after playing a brutal non-conference schedule against teams from Madison and Milwaukee, we're actually doing even better than I originally hoped.”