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Warriors Athlete of Week: Hodge delivering wins for unbeaten Brainerd tennis team

If the Brainerd Warriors hope to unseat six-time defending Section 8-2A champion St. Cloud Tech, or any other foe in the section tournament, they're going to need their entire lineup to deliver.

Brainerd Warrior Athlete of the Week Jacob Hodge returns the ball Wednesday at practice on the Brainerd High School courts. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch Video
Brainerd Warrior Athlete of the Week Jacob Hodge returns the ball Wednesday at practice on the Brainerd High School courts. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch Video

If the Brainerd Warriors hope to unseat six-time defending Section 8-2A champion St. Cloud Tech, or any other foe in the section tournament, they're going to need their entire lineup to deliver.

All Warrior singles players and doubles teams have been delivering this spring as Brainerd is off to a spotless start through 11 dual meets. Included in those wins was a 4-3 decision over Tech April 25 when the No. 3 doubles team of Patrick Moraghan-Ian Aadland provided the decisive victory.

One of the Warriors who has been delivering is senior No. 3 singles player Jake Hodge. The tri-captain is sporting a 14-0 mark which includes a few doubles victories.

"We're concerned as we come into subsection and section play that our No. 3 and 4 singles, our No. 2 and 3 doubles, that everybody is on top of their game," Warriors coach Bruce Thompson said. "Right now (Hodge) is playing very well. We need him to even improve from there."

Hodge furnished one of those individual wins against Tech, a 6-4, 6-1 win over Troy Feddema. Hodge said Brainerd's first win over Tech since 2009 gave the team a boost. Defeating an individual nemesis was particularly gratifying.

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Jake Hodge

  • Sport: Tennis
  • Position: No. 3 singles
  • Year: Senior
  • Age: Turns 19 Friday, May 11
  • Height: 6-0
  • Career highlight: Going to state in football in 2017
  • Other sports: Football, weightlifting
  • Grade-point average: 4.3
  • Favorite class: AP Government with Ms. Bastian
  • Favorite food: Mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Favorite movie: "Godfather"
  • Favorite TV show: "Seinfeld"
  • Favorite restaurant: Taco Bell
  • Future plans: Plans to study neuroscience at Michigan State University
  • Favorite athlete: Randy Moss
  • Parents: Dalen and Lori Hodge

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"It was fun to beat them," Hodge said. "I lost to (Feddema) I think three times last year and I beat him this year so that was pretty cool."

The Warriors are scheduled to host Tech at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 10, in a rematch and may run into the Tigers again in the section tournament.

"We're going to hopefully play them three different times because of sections," Hodge said. "(The win April 25) gave us a boost. Still, we know we have to keep going and beat them again and again."

Hodge opened the season with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Ives Hilgers of Moorhead and a 6-3, 7-5 decision over Bemidji's Wyatt Harrom.

"He kind of had a rocky start against Moorhead and Bemidji," Thompson said. "He won, but he wasn't playing well. What pleases me now is he played well against Tech. He played well against Sartell.

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"He's seeing the ball well, he's hitting the ball well. He's coming to the net. He's being aggressive when he can. He's playing some smart points."

Hodge believes increasing his aggressiveness has led to a productive spring.

"I started hitting through the ball more," he said. "I'm coming to the net more often. I think I've just become more consistent overall.

"I think I have a strong serve. I need to work on my volleys for sure and I've got to work on my power."

He prefers to play singles but has enjoyed playing doubles matches with buddies.

"Singles is a lot more mental game," Hodge said. "You're trying to work through points, trying to build up everything, trying to build to the net. Doubles is more strategy, quick points. Singles is setting up points so you can hit a winner. In doubles, it's just right there for you."

Thompson said several attributes have contributed to Hodge's success.

"He's pretty quick," Thompson said. "He's got pretty good footwork. His stroke technique has improved. Those kinds of things have helped his game for sure."

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Other notable efforts by Warriors:

• Gavin Metz, boys golf, was medalist in a CLC meet at Rich Spring Golf Course in Cold Spring.

• McCale Peterson, baseball, was 4-for-4 with a double and two RBIs vs. Tech.

• Jeff Spieker, Hunter Turcotte and Gabbie Smith, track and field, won events at the Wayzata Relays.

• Clare Ceynowa, softball, homered, doubled and drove in four runs in a doubleheader vs. Willmar.

• Lexi Roby, softball, was 3-4 with four RBIs, a double and triple in a doubleheader vs. Willmar.

• Cassidy Zontell, softball, was 3-4 with two RBIs, a double and triple in a doubleheader vs. Willmar.

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