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Roncalli tennis team drops season-opening matches

Aberdeen Roncalli’s Jackson Henrich returns a volley during a practice at the Northern State University tennis courts. The Cavaliers opened their season Monday with matches against O'Gorman and Brandon Valley. Photo by John Davis taken 4/1/2021

A young Aberdeen Roncalli tennis team had a tough start to its season on Monday, suffering 9-0 shutouts at the hands of O’Gorman and Brandon Valley.

The Cavaliers not only got their feet wet, but basically dove right into the deep end of the pool to begin their campaign.

“I definitely said those words to the guys right before we started our first match. We have a lot of guys that don’t have a lot of varsity experience,” said Roncalli coach JD Carrels. “For that to be their first taste of varsity-level tennis, I think it was a little eye opening.”

While the Knights may not feature a lot of familiar names from past seasons, O’Gorman always fields a competitive squad under coach Don Barnes.

“They’re consistently one of the top teams in the state. That’s just a tribute to Don. He’s just got a good thing going there,” Carrels said. “Even with the O’Gorman team, there was a lot of new names on the team, but it doesn’t matter if they’re new, their definitely solid competitors.”

Despite the lopsided loss, Carrels said he took positives from that dual.

“I did really see a lot of the positives. I don’t think a lot the kids even realized a lot of the positives that we took out of that match,” Carrels said.

Once that indoor match finished, Roncalli went to Brandon where they battled the Lynx as well as the cold and wind. Carrels said he noticed his players getting more comfortable as the day wore one.

“You just could tell with the way the kids were approaching the game and the way they were approaching their shots. It’s a lot different playing someone from a different team than playing challenge matches against your own friend. It’s just a different level of competition,” Carrels said. “You could see that rust really fall off and you could see them becoming a lot more comfortable while they were playing. It was kind of a subtle improvement, but to see that just after one match it was a great sign to see.”

Gray Imbery lost in a super-tiebreaker at number one singles in Roncalli’s closest match of the day. Carrels said once Imbery figured how he wanted to play in elements, he picked up his game and won a long tiebreaker, 10-8, in the second set.

“He started to find his groove in the second set and basically played a super-tiebreaker to win the second set,” Carrels said. “He played extremely well. I was really happy with his play.”

As a whole, Carrels was pleased with the demeanor and willingness to improve shown by his young troops. Many players talked about things they wanted to work on at the next practice when they came off the court.

“To hear a kid right after he comes off a match that he just lost, to want to go to practice and work, as a coach that’s exactly what you want to hear,” Carrels said. “That was definitely cool and made me very excited for what the kids can do the rest of the season.”

Roncalli’s triangular scheduled for today in Brookings is off. The Cavaliers will host Sioux Falls Roosevelt and Watertown in a triangular on Monday.

O’Gorman 9, Aberdeen Roncalli 0

SINGLES

Zach Ridl, OG, def. Gray Imbery, 6-0, 6-0.

Alex Lupu, OG, def. Cason Hellwig, 6-0, 6-0.

Kade Moffitt, OG, def. Jackson Henrich, 6-0, 6-0.

Alex Mohama, OG, def. Mason Carrels, 6-0, 6-0.

Liam Sarmiento, OG, def. AJ Prehn, 6-0, 6-0.

Cooper Johnson, OG, def. Palmer Johnson, 6-1, 6-3.

DOUBLES

Ridl-Lupu OG, def. Imbery-Carrels, 10-0.

Moffitt-Mohama, OG, def. Hellwig-Henrich, 10-0.

Sarmiento-Joey Gellerman, OG, def. Prehn-Gannon May, 10-2.

Brandon Valley 9, Aberdeen Roncalli 0

SINGLES

Dawson Johnson, BV, def. Gray Imbery, 6-3, 6-7 (8-10), (10-2).

Landon Kocer, BV, def. Cason Hellwig, 6-0, 6-0.

Tanner Schultz, BV, def. Jackson Henrich, 6-0, 6-1.

Ayden Murray, BV, def. Mason Carrels, 6-2, 6-2.

Tayven Badger, BV, def. AJ Prehn, 6-0, 6-1.

Cole Murray, BV, def. Palmer Johnson, 6-4, 6-2.

DOUBLES

D. Johnson-Kocer, BV, def. Imbery-Carrels, 6-2, 6-3.

Schultz-Murray, BV, def. Hellwig-Henrich, 6-1, 6-1.

Badger-Mark Mutschlenknaus, BV, def. Prehn-Gannon May, 6-0, 6-1.

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