Fergus tennis takes 4th at statePublished 11:02am Thursday, June 6, 2013
The Fergus Falls boys tennis team completed a banner season by bringing home the fourth place trophy from the State Class A Tournament held Tuesday and Wednesday at the Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center in Minneapolis.
The Otters defeated Virginia 5-2 in the first round Wednesday, and then had to face the No. 2 team in the state, the Breck School, at 8:00 am Wednesday.
They played inspired tennis against the highly skilled defending champion Breck team that has all year-around tennis club players, but Breck had too much fire power and defeated the Otters 6-1. Jesse Schneeberger at No. 1 singles for the Otters faced the 6th ranked player in the state Tucker Sjoblad and took him to a third set tie-breaker before succumbing 1-6, 7-6 (7-2), [2-10]. It was a match played at the highest level with powerful winners from both players that created quite a buzz around the tennis center from the fans. At No. 2 singles, the Otters’ David Schneck took home the lone victory for Fergus Falls with one of his best matches of the year in a 6-4, 6-2 dominating win over Breck’s Joey Gamer. The Otters kept improving throughout their matches exemplified by No. 3 singles player Jordan Schneeberger who lost the first set 1-6, but got to 4-5 in the second set before dropping the final game in a close loss. Brady Anderson at fourth singles followed the same pattern, dropping the first set 1-6, but gained momentum in the second set before losing 3-6 for the match. The No. 1 doubles team of Jason Burns and Sam Rausch continued their high level play and took Breck’s No. 1 doubles team to the limit in a very close 3-6, 4-6 loss. Breck’s club-player depth proved too much at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles where the teams of John Makielski & Conner Hatfield, and Cody Drake & Chris Bernard were shut out in their losses.
“Our Otters received many compliments around the tennis center with their inspired play against an outstanding Breck team,” commented Otter coach Norm Newell. “The players really wanted to show that a team from outstate without any indoor courts could still play with the big boys and I really believe our Otters gained a lot of respect even in their loss today.”
After an emotional first round win and a draining semi-final loss, the Otters then had to play the No. 4 ranked Mound-Westonka Whitehawks and just couldn’t muster the energy to stay with their highly talented singles line-up. After a draining match against Breck, Jesse Schneeberger had to turn around and play the No. 4 ranked player in the state, Luke Moorhead from Mound-Westonka. Schneeberger gave it all he had but the energy tank was running on empty and he ended up losing 0-6, 2-6. David Schneck had to play the 10th ranked player in the state, Arend Turner, and had the same scenario, having many close games with high level points. But playing a little drained he couldn’t come up with big points in each game and succumbed 0-6, 0-6. Mound-Westonka continued their domination in the No. 3 and No. 4 singles matches, with Jordan Schneeberger going down 1-6, 1-6 and Brady Anderson losing 0-6, 2-6. Once again, Jason Burns and Sam Rausch continued to played inspired doubles at the No. 1 slot and ran through the Mound-Westonka duo of Elliot Bussey & Trevor Omann 6-2, 6-2 for the Otter’s lone team point. Makielski and Hatfield lost at No. 2 doubles 2-6, 2-6 and Chris Bernard and Nathan Kaminski-Horak lost at No. 3 doubles 0-6, 1-6.
“I told the team these last two losses against the best the state has to offer does not define their season. Being in the state tournament, getting to the final four and bringing home a nice shiny fourth place state trophy is what defines their season. After losing five top players from last season’s state tournament team, not many people thought the Otters could come back to the state. But this Otter team steadily improved their play throughout the year and reached a level of mental toughness that allowed them to win the pressure section and first round of state matches. I’m extremely proud of their efforts. The boys want to thank all the family, friends and fans that came to support them and for the many well-wishes from Otter fan back home through texts and calls, a real life demonstration of Otter Pride.”
The Otters aren’t done however, they still have Jesse Schneeberger and David Schneck in singles and the doubles team of Jason Burns and Sam Rausch set to play in the State Class A Individual Tournament Thursday and Friday. Singles play is at 8 a.m. and whether they win or lose they play again at 12 p.m. Thursday, while doubles play is at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Schneeberger plays Jack Dodd from Duluth Marshall in his first match. David Schneck has drawn the No. 3 seeded Kavir Kumar from the Blake School for his first round match. Burns and Rausch play Virginia’s duo of Joey Skaudis & Tom Prittinen. If any player wins their second round match in either the winner’s bracket or the consolation bracket, they will continue play into Friday.
By Norm Newell
For the Journal