With all the early-season inclement weather, the Raider boys' tennis team is packing in the matches as it nears the end of the spring season and that included three duals and a tournament in four days last week.
The Raiders dropped a close 4-3 decision to Duluth East Wednesday, May 1, and swept Chippewa Falls and New Prague Thursday and Friday before taking first place at the Stevens Point Area Senior High Tournament Saturday, May 4.
The Raiders have one more Big Rivers Conference match at Eau Claire North Tuesday, May 7, and play a non conference dual at Mahtomedi Thursday, May 9, before the BRC Tournament in Eau Claire this Saturday, May 11. Head coach John Knutson said he hopes the team's strong play continues.
"You hope to improve during the year, and we have," he said. "Playing the toughest teams in the state from Madison and Milwaukee early in the year was great for us. Beyond that, you hope to peak at the end of the year for the BRC tournament,. subsectional and sectional play heading into the state tournament, and we'll see in time if we can peak at the right time too."
After losing by one point to once-beaten Duluth East last Wednesday the Raiders honored their eight seniors with a 7-0 whitewash of Chippewa Falls the next day. They came right back with a 7-0 victory over New Prague and its coach, former Raider player Ben Hilding, whose father John Hilding is a math teacher at Hudson High School and a former Raider coach.
Continuing their arduous schedule, the Raider players and coaches were up around 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning to leave Hudson an hour later for the annual SPASH Tournament in Stevens Point to take on host Stevens Point, River Falls, and Eau Claire Regis.
Hudson opened the tourney with its second 7-0 victory over River Falls in a week.
"Right now we're just at a different level than River Falls this year with the tennis programs," Knutson said. "They have been competitive in years past, but this year our guys stepped up and improved and they continue to struggle with numbers and quality in their top players."
Knutson pointed to Jacob Grosz losing just four points in a straight set victory at No. 2 singles as an example of the Raiders' dominance.
"That's almost unheard of," Knutson said. "If we take out our No. 3 doubles match, which was close but not really contested with us winning 6-3, 6-2, the entire River Falls team only won two games in the other six matches. I'm not sure you'll see a more dominating match then that."
The Raiders went on to sweep Eau Claire Regis and close out host Stevens Point 5-2 to go 3-0 and capture the team title. Hudson's singles players went undefeated on the day while the doubles teams won seven of nine matches.
"Our guys played well," assistant coach John Dahl said. "To drop only two of the 21 matches during the tournament was impressive."
"This is another special group of 20 guys whose determination and effort are more than I could expect," Knutson added. "I always ask the players, 'What are you willing to give to get what you want?' It's great to see that these guys are willing to give everything they've got and then some."