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Johnson takes third, Roncalli finishes ninth at state tennis

Aberdeen Roncalli’s AJ Prehn returns a volley during a doubles match in a dual with Aberdeen Central at the Holgate Middle School courts. Prehn lost his consolation round match at fifth flight singles at the Class A State Tournament on Tuesday. Photo by John Davis taken 5/6/2021

SIOUX FALLS – Palmer Johnson took third place at sixth flight singles and Aberdeen Roncalli finished ninth in the team standings during the final day of the Class A State Tennis Tournament on Tuesday.

Sioux Falls Christian won the team title with Yankton second.

Johnson lost his first match before rebounding to claim third place in his first year of varsity tennis.

“He had a phenomenal tournament,” said Roncalli coach JD Carrels. “For a freshman that didn’t’ have any varsity experience before, for him and for me as a coach, it’s one of the best feelings when you see a kid succeed.”

Johnson needed a ton of energy to finally subdue his foe from Yankton and earn the third place finish.

“I think he ran more in that final match than he’s run in half his matches this season. It was unbelievable. He was running all over the place,” Carrels said. “The key for him was his patience. Even though he was exhausted, he kept being patient and didn’t try for his points early. He definitely persevered and it paid off in the end.”

Carrels said Johnson’s semifinal was much closer than the final score indicated, noting he lost about a half dozen deuce points.

“He just could not get one of them to fall his way. You split those up and the score is even,” Carrels said. “Every game was a nail-biter. He unfortunately ended up on the wrong end of pretty much every deuce point.”

Roncalli lost in each of its consolation matches, two of them to Pierre at flight one singles and flight one doubles. Carrels said Pierre’s top player had an incredible day.

“Credit to the Pierre kid. I’ve seen him play a few times and I’ve never seen him play the way he did against Gray (Imbery),” Carrels said. “He was playing lights out. Everything was clicking for him.”

Imbery and Mason Carrels then fell in top flight doubles.

AJ Prehn also came up short in his match at fifth flight singles. The match started outdoors, but was moved inside because of rain and Prehn was never able to get going.

“He couldn’t ever find his groove indoors,” Coach Carrels said.

The Cavaliers have plenty of reason for optimism for the future as a majority of the squad is coming back next season.

“Definitely a bright spot at the end of the tunnel. We had a lot of success at some of the flights where there was no varsity experience,” Coach Carrels said. “Every one of them is already planning on doing some work over the summer to get better. It’s super exciting to look forward to what the team has in the future.”

Team Points: Sioux Falls Christian 455.5, Yankton 378.5, Huron 367.5, Mitchell 339, Lennox 259.5, Pierre 259.5, Rapid City Christian 240, Spearfish 82.5, Aberdeen Roncalli 69, Madison 44, Milbank Area 0, Vermillion 0.


First Flight: GRAY IMBERY lost to Matthew Hanson, Pierre, 10-1.

Fifth Flight: AJ PREHN lost to Hay Klu Moo Taw, Huron, 10-4.

Sixth Flight: PALMER JOHNSON lost to Luke Jerke, Mitchell, 6-1, 6-0; defeated Miles Krajewski, Yankton, 8-4. THIRD PLACE.


First Flight: GRAY IMBERY-MASON CARRELS lost to Hanson-Hudson, Pierre, 8-3.

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