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Roncalli’s Johnson advances to semifinals at state tennis tourney

Aberdeen Roncalli’s Palmer Johnson returns a volley during a doubles match with Aberdeen Central at the Holgate Middle School courts. Johnson is in the semifinals at sixth flight singles at the Class A state tennis tournament. Photo by John Davis taken 5/6/2021

SIOUX FALLS – Aberdeen Roncalli’s Palmer Johnson moved into the semifinals of sixth flight singles during the opening day at the Class A State Tennis Tournament in Sioux Falls on Monday.

Sioux Falls Christian leads the team points. The Cavaliers are ninth in team points and have four flights where they will be in action today.

Gray Imbery and AJ Prehn will be in consolation in singles, and Imbery and Mason Carrels are still playing in consolation in doubles.

Johnson, who received a first-round bye, defeated Lay Kpaw Wah of Huron, 6-2, 7-6, 7-3 in the tiebreaker in his only match on the day.

“Palmer really hunkered down, played his style and ended up getting the W in the tiebreaker,” said Roncalli assistant coach Isaiah Vilhauer, “He started frustrating his opponent and didn’t miss a ball. His opponent kept getting frustrated and making unforced errors.”

Johnson, a freshman, will take on the top-seeded player in his flight in the semifinals. Johnson does not play doubles, so he wasn’t on the court too long on Monday.

“He only played one time, so I think he’s pretty fresh,” Vilhauer said. “We’re looking forward to him getting after it right away in the morning.”

The Cavaliers came up short in a couple of other matches. Mason Carrels lost in a super-tiebreaker, Imbery and Carrels lost a set in doubles 7-5, and Cason Hellwig and Jackson Henrich lost a set in a tie-breaker.

“There was definitely a couple of close ones that I thought we could win,” said Roncalli coach JD Carrels. “There were a few big points that didn’t fall our way.”

The Cavaliers will look to take advantage of their opportunities when play resumes this morning.

Prehn will be in consolation action in fifth flight singles.

“We’re happy that’s he’s moving on and advancing,” Vilhauer said. “He kept his head and kept his composure and kind of played his style of tennis.”

Imbery will face an opponent from Pierre in both first flight singles and first flight doubles consolation play.

“There’s definitely some point opportunities for us, but they are definitely not going to come easy,” Coach Carrels said. “Pierre is a very quality team.”

Imbery, a senior, would undoubtedly enjoy capping his prep tennis career with a victory.

“That’s always the best finish if you can finish your career with a win,” Coach Carrels said, “but for Gray to be able to do that, he has to come out in the morning and take care of business right away.”

Team Points: Sioux Falls Christian 287.5, Huron 260, Mitchell 257, Yankton 252, Lennox 168.5, Rapid Christian 158, Pierre 145, Spearfish 82.5, Aberdeen Roncalli 63, Madison 45, Milbank Area 0, Vermillion 0.


First Flight

GRAY IMBERY: def. Mason Riley, Milbank Area, 6-1, 6-1; lost to Eh Dah, Huron, 6-4, 6-2; def. Ty Sieber, Spearfish, 10-1.

Second Flight

CASON HELLWIG: lost to Keaton List, Yankton, 6-4, 6-0; lost to Tyler Waldner, Madison, 10-4.

Third Flight

JACKSON HENRICH: lost to Andrew Dobbs, Rapid City Christian, 6-0, 6-1; lost to Roger Puterbaugh, Huron, 10-2.

Fourth Flight

MASON CARRELS: lost to Noah Geyer, Rapid City Christian, 2-6, 6-2, (10-8); lost to Mason Kennington, Madison, 10-3.

Fifth Flight

AJ PREHN: lost to Cody Plank, Lennox, 6-2, 6-4; def. Carter Schulz, Pierre, 10-8.

Sixth Flight

PALMER JOHNSON: def. Lay Kpaw Wah, Huron, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3).


First Flight

GRAY IMBERY-MASON CARRELS: def. Fernau-Kennington, 6-0, 7-5; lost to Plank-Plank, Lennox, 6-0, 7-5; def. Sieber-Yackley, Spearfish, 10-4.

Second Flight

CASON HELLWIG-JACKSON HENRICH: lost to Dobbs-Geyer, Rapid City Christian, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3); lost to Daugherty-Plank, Lennox, 10-0.

Third Flight

AJ PREHN-GANNON MAY: lost to Beck-Mayer, Pierre, 6-2, 6-3; lost to Geiken-Lunstra, Lennox, 10-6.

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