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Cross-town rivals play typical tight dual

Aberdeen Roncalli’s Landon Zikmund reaches to return a volley during a doubles match against Aberdeen Central Monday at the Holgate tennis courts. Photo by John Davis taken 5/2/2022

Aberdeen Central and Aberdeen Roncalli only go head-to-head in one sport these days, but make no mistake, the longtime rivalry still exists.

The two hooked up in a tight tennis dual at Holgate Monday afternoon. The Cavaliers won four of the seven contested matches played, three coming on super-tiebreakers. There were no top flight singles or doubles matches due to an injury.

“It was definitely the typical match and that’s why it’s kind of called the cross-town rivals,” said Roncalli coach JD Carrels. “It definitely lived up to that for sure.”

Roncalli not only won the super breakers, the Cavaliers pulled out each one at the end, saving a match point in one of them. All three were decided by two points.

“We were very fortunate to come out on the winning end of all three of those supers. When it gets down to a super tiebreaker it can go either way so quick,” Carrels said. “A couple of points can make such a big difference. Fortunately for us we were on the right end of it. We were a little more mentally tough today and were able to pull those out.”

While Roncalli was able to win the key points, the Golden Eagles were not. It’s something that has been an issue for Central most of the season.

“All three matches that went to supers, they just played better than us,” said Central coach Trent Kurtz. “We made way too many errors. They were way more sound in the tiebreaks. They just played the big points better. That’s been our thing all year.”

Roncalli’s Landon Zikmund had a hand in a pair of those super breakers. He teamed with Gannon May to pull out an 11-9 victory in a super at flight three doubles over Jack Riggs and Michael Frohling.

“That was a really close match. It was really a mental battle for our team. We were fighting back and forth,” Zikmund said. “There were really close points. After coming out losing 2-6 in that second set it was really hard to come back mentally.”

Not only did the duo overcome losing the second set, they overcame a match point down 8-9 when May delivered a big serve to level the score. They then scored the last two points to grab the victory.

Zikmund then rallied from a set down to come back and claim a 10-8 super-tiebreak victory over Sekou Gogue at flight five singles.

“It was a similar thing. I played him Friday in Rapid City and I was down 1-4 and I reset mentally. He’s a great player. I just had to basically play more consistent,” Zikmund said. “I was just overthinking my shots and as soon as I kind of reset and loosened a little bit, and played more relaxed I came back. It was a good match.”

Roncalli’s other super-tiebreak victory came at flight two singles where Cason Hellwig rallied from a set down to edge Ian Ahlberg 10-8. Roncalli also received a straight set win from Palmer Johnson at flight four singles.

Zikmund said he could definitely tell it was a Central-Roncalli dual.

“It’s a lot more friendly. I really like playing the matches because I know all of the people that I’m playing, especially in our doubles,” Zikmund said. “We played Mikey and Jack. It was a really close match and it was just a lot of fun.”

Central seventh-grader Mitchell Hofer is new to the rivalry, but said he could notice a different vibe to the dual compared to other matches this season.

“For sure. You can kind of feel the pressure,” Hofer said. “You want to win the dual for sure, because it’s an inner-city rival and everything.”

Aberdeen Central’s Mitchell Hofer returns a volley during a doubles match against Aberdeen Roncalli Monday at the Holgate tennis courts. Photo by John Davis taken 5/2/2022

Hofer accounted for two of Central’s victories on the day, teaming with AJ Prehn for a win a flight two doubles and then defeating Mason Carrels at flight three singles.

“In doubles I thought we played pretty well,” Hofer said. “We won a couple of deuce points when we were down love-40 and came back. I think we just overall played pretty well. We’ve played good our last couple of duals.”

Hofer took advantage of his aggressiveness to fuel his singles victory.

“In singles against Mason, I hit a lot of good approach shots when I came to the net,” Hofer said, “and I thought my overheads were really good.”

Central won at flight six singles in a tight match as well. Riggs defeated May 7-5, 6-3.

Both teams are back in action again today.

The Golden Eagles host Watertown at 1 p.m. and Milbank Area at 4 p.m. at Holgate. Central will honor five seniors between the duals on Senior Day.

Roncalli will host Watertown at 4 p.m. at the Northern State Courts.


Cason Hellwig, AR, def. Ian Ahlberg, 5-7 6-4, (10-8).

Mitchell Hofer, AC, def. Mason Carrels, 6-2, 6-2.

Palmer Johnson, AR, def. AJ Prehn, 6-3, 6-0.

Landon Zikmund, AR, def. Sekou Gogue, 1-6, 6-4, (10-8).

Gannon May, AR, def. Jack Riggs, 7-5, 6-3.


Hofer-Prehn, AC, def. Hellwig-Johnson, 6-2, 6-1.

Zikmund-May, AR, def. Riggs-Michael Frohling, 6-1, 2-6, (11-9).

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