Tennis star ready for state [UPDATED]Published 10:52am Wednesday, June 8, 2011 Updated 10:52am Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Relaxed, confident and ready to go. This is the best way to describe the Fergus Falls Otters’ tennis player Jake Anderson as he approaches the state tournament.
Thwack. There goes a screaming forehand. Thump. This time a blistering backhand edges the net going cross court. Fergus Falls’ Jake Anderson has been waiting for this moment since last year when his state dreams ended at the Section 8AA tournament.
“I’m really excited,” Anderson said in-between shots. “I had a really good draw this year. I’m just going to go down and enjoy the experience, have fun and win a couple of matches.”
Anderson compiled a 16-5 record in singles play this season, took runner-up honors in the section tournament and earned a trip to Baseline Tennis courts at the University of Minnesota.
Anderson’s improvements have turned a section qualifier into a state participant in under a year.
“He has done a lot of work on his forehand,” said Otters’ Head Coach Josh Mohagen. “He has also honed his backhand, making it more of a weapon than just a solid shot. It’s just tough to put into words.”
In preparation for state, Anderson has been guided by a few local tennis legends in Mohagen and former state-participant Titus Christenson.
Playing relaxed, but aggressive, points on the local courts, Anderson continues to work on his skills, long after the sun has started to set. This makes Jake all that more dangerous to opponents that wait across net.
Mohagen sees Jake’s on court patience and his great defensive play to be key attributes that he possesses.
“He always finds a way to get the ball back somewhere that’s tough for his opponent to put away. Jake is patient enough to wait for the right spot at the right time.”
Jake will take on Burnsville’s Nazhone Wilkins in his opening round match at 8 a.m. Thursday. Wilkins has a family legacy of tennis players with brother, Sion, played for the Gophers and sister, Niltooli, is currently playing tennis for North Carolina-Greensboro.
Wilkins also won the Section 3AA title and put together a 16-1 season record.
As Anderson and Christenson play points, Mohagen asks Jake what he is looking forward to as he prepares for his trip.
“The Juicy Lucy burger at Matt’s Bar in the cities,” responds Anderson with a smile.
This brings about talk of Jake’s new gluten-free diet, a few laughs and a few more backhands.