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Boys Tennis: Warriors eyeing the (Tech) Tiger

Tanner Lundberg has proven twice he's the best singles player in Section 8-2A, which means he's also the best singles player in the Central Lakes Conference. With two other singles players, and four doubles returning, this could be the year the t...

Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch Brainerd Warriors No. 1 singles player Tanner Lundberg hits on a snow-covered tennis court Wednesday at Brainerd High School.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch Brainerd Warriors No. 1 singles player Tanner Lundberg hits on a snow-covered tennis court Wednesday at Brainerd High School.

 

Tanner Lundberg has proven twice he's the best singles player in Section 8-2A, which means he's also the best singles player in the Central Lakes Conference.

With two other singles players, and four doubles returning, this could be the year the team joins Lundberg at the state tournament.

The senior No. 1 singles players repeated as Section 8-2A singles champion last year to advance to his second state tournament. Both times, Lundberg has gone 0-2 in the state's final tournament, but improvement has been made.

"He certainly is the best player in the conference and the best player in the section," said Brainerd head coach Bruce Thompson. "We have to grow, though. We talked about improving some parts of his game. It's like anything you do. You just can't rest on what you've done in the past. You have to keep moving forward and he knows that.

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"Tanner sees the court so well. He never panics. He never shows any emotion out there. He plays the game the right way. He's got quick hands and feet and really competes well."

Last year, Lundberg finished with a 29-4 overall record. This will be his fifth year on varsity and his fourth at No. 1 singles. That experience and talent will be vital to the development of Brainerd's roster.

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Boys tennis

  • Head coach: Bruce Thompson, 22nd year
  • Career record: 212-131 (.618)
  • 2017 record: CLC 8-2, overall 20-3
  • Captains: Jacob Hodge, Tanner Lundberg, Nathan Rud
  • Assistant coaches: Chuck Whalen, Dan Egan

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"I talked to him just the other day and told him he needs to step up and teach what you know to our singles core," Thompson said. "Right now our singles core is Steven Low, Jacob Hodge, Kennan Hodge and Camden Cooper. He needs to share his knowledge, philosophy, technique and strategy with those guys. He is one of the best teachers here to do that.

"Those other guys will have their style, but he has to be helping them. He could really be doing a lot of good toward us taking that next step forward."

That next step forward means beating St. Cloud Tech. Brainerd finished 20-3 last year with all three losses coming against the Tigers, including a 6-1 loss in the Section 8-2A team final.

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"Every year you have to work on your mental focus," Thompson said. "Last year, we beat Becker in a great match to get to Tech. We played some good matches with them. We are not afraid of them. You have to play those because they make you better.

"Tech doesn't have the guns they've had in the past. They don't have the strength in their lineup they've had so it should be a good match-up. They're vulnerable in spots, but so are we. So where are we going to improve and where can we improve?"

Filling out the singles roster will be sophomore Steven Low, who finished last year 6-2 in singles and 10-3 in doubles. Low teamed with senior Nathan Rud in the section individual tournament in doubles.

Low played at No. 3 singles last year, but will move to No. 2. Senior Jacob Hodge goes from No. 4 to No. 3. Hodge was 2-0 in doubles and 12-6 in singles.

Sophomore Keenan Hodge (5-2 singles, 1-0 doubles) and senior Camden Cooper will rotate between No. 4 singles and doubles play.

"Having that experience makes us strong," Thompson said. "Steven has great hands and he really worked on his footspeed over the summer. My biggest concern, if we're going to match up well with Tech, is it's going to come down to No. 3 and 4 singles and how they match up with us. They won't beat us at No. 1. I'm going to give us the nod on No. 2 because Steven is good.

"What Tech wants to do is keep their No. 3 and 4 at their 3 and 4 spots."

Leading the doubles pack will be Rud and junior Garrett Goeden. The two played together on and off last season until Goeden teamed with his older brother, Travis, late in the season and into the section individual tournament. Garrett was 18-3 in doubles and 1-1 in singles. Rud was 20-6 overall.

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"They're both really nice players and they worked this winter and both have been on courts and both are hitting well," Thompson said. "This could be a really nice combination. I think the guy that has really improved is Nathan. Garrett is a really nice player."

Along with Low, the surprise of last season was the play of then-freshmen Patrick Moraghan and Ian Aadland. The now-sophomores were the only point Brainerd collected against St. Cloud Tech in the section finals. The combined to go 7-0 as doubles partners last year.

"We were really surprised by Ian and Patrick, especially on the doubles side," Thompson said. "They beat a good Tech team and they played so well.

"We had Patrick playing some singles and Ian playing some singles, but as a doubles team they really came on and it surprised us. It's something as you go through your coaching season, it's a moment of discovery. They came out of nowhere."

Battling for that No. 3 doubles spot, as well as providing depth, will be seniors Thomas Anakkala and Matt Hintz and juniors Clay Jambor, Oliver Knudson and Layton Rivard.

More underclassmen could step up, but with the weather, Thompson and his staff aren't sure what they have just yet.

"It is so tough," Thompson said. "We have 41 kids and I don't see us being out(side) this week or next week and the following week we have Willmar and Tech. And there is no place for us to go. We have gone out to Cragun's, but that's a carpeted court. That's not the same as hitting on a hard court. We're struggling with not having a facility to go to."

Warriors roster

Seniors: Thomas Anakkala, Camden Cooper, Matt Hintz, Jacob Hodge, Tanner Lundberg, Nathan Rud, Nick Stout

Juniors: Brant Dabill, Garrett Goeden, Clay Jambor, Oliver Knudson, Jacob Mitchell, Layton Rivard

Sophomores: Ian Aadland, Jack Anderson, Devin Ernslander, Keenan Hodge, Tennyson Kelm, Andrew Kirzeder, Steven Low, Luke Meyer, Dylan Miller, Patrick Moraghan, Trey Pike, Sean Paulus, Logan Severson, Noah Spitzley, Allec Hins

Freshmen: Ben Boberg, Jackson Callian, RJ Campbell, Noah Joque, Jonathon Larson, Gabe Mauer, Gabe Moen , Jarrett Osborne, Jay Petrie, Tyler Schaitberger, Ben Schlegel, Oliver Schwab, Cade Young

Schedule

April 7, at Becker Quadrangular 9 a.m.

April 10, hosts Sartell 3:30 p.m.

April 12, hosts Fergus Falls 4:30 p.m.

April 17, at Willmar 4:30 p.m.

April 19, at St. Cloud Tech 4:30 p.m.

April 20, hosts Moorhead 4:30 p.m.

April 24, hosts Bemidji 4 p.m.

April 26, at Buffalo Invite 9 a.m.

May 1, at Alexandria 4:30 p.m.

May 3, at Sartell 4:30 p.m.

May 8, hosts Willmar 4:30 p.m.

May 10, hosts St. Cloud Tech 4:30 p.m.

May 12, Warrior triangular 9 a.m.

May 15, at St. Cloud Apollo 4:30 p.m.

May 17, hosts Alexandria 4:30 p.m.

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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