Valley City Tennis Aces Gain Ground

Valley City tennis's 3-2 home loss to Mandan on Friday morning was abbreviated because the traveling Mandan had to travel for a match in Fargo later in the day.

The Fargo Invite on Saturday was cancelled early because of rain, but not before Valley City senior Derek Reimers fell to Willi Ulness of Bismarck, then beat Fargo North junior Ben Mostad in the next match. Hi-Liner eighth-grader Evan Haglund lost to Michael Janes of Barnes County. VC seventh-grader Brighton Smith lost to Brendon Watson of Minot.

Ondracek and Brandon Miller beat David Keys and Scott Pomeroy of Bismarck in doubles. Haglund and freshman Sam Jenson lost to Peyton Kerzmann and Trace Garcia of Bismarck Century. Sophomore Tyler Clark and seventh-grader Zach Baumgartner lost to Tanner Corbett and Austin Johnson of Grand Forks Central.

In singles against Mandan, Reimers beat Brandon Schoner, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

"Derek is finally changing his game to play winning tennis," Valley City Tennis Head Coach Matt Nielson said. "He is not going for winners on every shot, but being patient before going big, or he is hitting a quality approach shot and going to the net to win points. He needs to continue this to be successful this week and going into regionals."

Sophomore Dalton Ondracek beat Connor Wieland, 7-5, 7-6(2).

"Dalton won a very tight match against Mandan," Nielson said. "Because he kept his play even, he was able to pull out the very tight match against a Mandan player who let his emotions negatively effect his play. He and Dustin played very well during their two matches on Saturday. Dalton is finding his way. He is on his way to be a leader on next years squad."

Smith lost to Alex Wanek, 6-0, 6-0.

"Brighton played his first varsity match against Mandan still with a little pain from a strained thumb," Nielson said. "Coach [Tavis] Peterson has been very impressed with his coachability and continued stroke development. [We are] looking at graduating our top two and our No. 5 this year – he will be a part of the future of this team."

Doubles action played out to a senior Dustin Miller / sophomore Brandon Miller loss to Erik Porter and Tate Russell, 7-5, 7-5.

"Dustin played on Friday with his brother — they lost the match on a heartbreaking 6-5 deuce point," Nielson said. "The old Dustin Miller would have lost his cool. Instead, he came back to his brother and built him back up with an excellent talk showing his leadership on the team. Dustin has been playing with his emotions and play on an even keel. This is leading to him winning matches and staying in matches. If he continues this, he would have a shot to do well at Regionals. Brandon's play has been following his attitude. He is a vital part of this team, and we will need to figure out how to keep him up for an entire match. I think his brother's motivational speech will be a big part of keeping him motivated to keep getting better and keeping his attitude up."

Haglund and Jenson lost to Ben Wanner and Tyler Tweten, 6-2, 6-1.

"Evan has glimpses of great strokes, and he's shown that throughout the year," Nielson said. "He finally put it together against a Bismarck Century seventh-grader at the West Fargo Invite. The player he played was his size and his grade level, but this kid was by far a better player than many of the opponents Evan has had before. Evan was not intimidated, and put together an entire match of beautiful strokes and smart shot selection. This is now what is expected as a baseline for Evan. It doesn't matter who he plays – we now know what he is capable and is going to be expected to play at that level. Sam has been a great doubles partner over the last two weeks: he has been nothing but positive with his teammates. His backhands are great, and he is starting to make smarter shot selections in his matches. Sam has been a great addition to this team to this point, and we hope he continues his play through these last two weeks."

In JV action, Clark and Baumgartner lost to Nathan Wanner and Nate Burghart, 6-1. Clark and Baumgartner turned around to beat Ryan Walby and Kamdin Sedivec, 6-3.

"Tyler and Zach played doubles together and had fun, which led to the win," Nielson said. "This led to very good play by both. They played the same way on Saturday and won another match. If we can get these two to follow through on what we are teaching instead of worrying about the match, they will improve tremendously."

Hi-Liner tennis (1-5 Eastern Dakota Conference, 1-6 overall) visits Fargo Davies (1-5, 1-7) for a 4 p.m. match on Tuesday.

Read this story in Tuesday's Times-Record.