The boys tennis season came to a close last week with the individual section tournament that began in Mora and concluded in Pine City. Each team in the section was able to submit two singles players and two doubles teams. For the locals, Parker Sell and Hunter Danielson were the singles participants while the teams of Peyton Smetana/Mason Mikyska and Jared Carpenter/Seth Linnell represented PC in doubles.
“Going into the tourney, we felt we might get someone into the section finals even though the competition was challenging,” commented coach John Eberhart. “I thought the final two rounds we had in Pine City were as difficult as anything we saw all season.”
Tuesday’s opening round in Mora found Sell winning three straight matches which successfully sent him on to the second day. At the same time, Danielson won his first match but dropped his second ending his spring. In doubles action, Smetana/Mikyska advanced after winning two before dropping their final match. Unfortunately the team of Carpenter/Linnell were not so fortunate as they won their opener but lost in the second round to a powerful pair from Foley.
According to Eberhart, “Hunter played very well against his first opponent and had a lead in his second match but he wasn’t able to close it out. He pushed his North Branch opponent as far as he could but came up just short. Jared and Seth won their first match against a team from Mora but against the Falcons they just couldn’t get it going. Peyton and Mason lived up to their seeding by pushing the number one Foley team to three sets. Parker played a very gutsy match in the finals. He dropped the first set in a tie breaker, won the second set in a tie breaker, then turned up the heat and won the third set by a score of 6-0.”
On Thursday, the Eastern side of the section met the Western side in Dragonville to determine who would head to the state meet. Each of the championship and consolation round matches were tense battles that had the fans applauding the outstanding play of all the participants. Sell was defeated by Carter Weinbold of Mound-Westonka in three sets by scores of 0-6, 6-4, and 7-6 in his semi-final opener. He then rallied to defeat Max Sampson of Mora 6-2, 5-7, 10-8 to close out an outstanding high school career with his consolation victory.
The doubles action was equally exciting. In the semi-finals, Smetana/Mikyska lost to the Litchfield team of Draeger/Michels 6-1, 6-1 before outslugging the team of Hanson/Skaja from Mound-Westonka 7-5, 6-3 to win the consolation title.
“We knew Parker along with Peyton and Mason had their work cut out for them on Thursday. When you get that far into a tournament, there are no easy wins. Although the scores might not show it, every match featured long, extended points and the final results could have gone either way. Our kids battled right to the end and I am proud of how they finished,” remarked Eberhart.
The Dragons will have to replace a quartet of tremendous seniors next spring. Gone will be Sell at first singles, Caleb Stumne at third singles, Smetana at first doubles, and Carpenter at second doubles.
“We are going to lose four outstanding players who were excellent leaders and performers for us. It is not always easy to plug kids into a lineup but we have a very solid nucleus of returning varsity people along with a promising group of players coming up from our junior varsity team. But, we will need to get on the courts this summer to improve our skills,” concluded Eberhart. “I think we surprised a lot of people with how well we played this spring after having no tennis a year ago. It was a fun season and we are all looking forward to next year.”