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The Valley City High School boys tennis team only won a single match last year against an Eastern Dakota Conference regional opponent, but they made it count.
After going winless against regional competition last season, the team beat Fargo South 3-2 in the regional tournament play-in match
"If you're going to get one victory, that's the victory to get," coach Matt Nielson said.
Though the team eventually lost in the regional tournament, it gave the team a starting point and this year the Hi-Liners hope to continue their growth in the EDC.
The majority of last year's team returns to the court this year, with former No. 3 singles player Austin Ross the only loss to graduation.
The team will be led this year by junior Dustin Miller, who beat fellow junior Derek Reimers for the No. 1 singles position.
Nielson said Miller spent lots of time in the summer playing tournaments and working on his game.
"Dustin Miller put in the time and the effort and it shows," he said. "He's, right now, our go-to guy."
Nielson credited several other members of his team, including Reimers, who was the No. 1 singles player last year, and senior Ricky Paulson, with putting in time over the summer to improve.
"We've got some good guys coming here," he said.
Other returning players from last season include seniors Iain Horner, Wyatt Reinhart, and Cody Schmidt, along with freshman Brandon Miller.
Contributing full-time to the team will be freshman Dalton Ondracek, who Nielson said used to also play football.
Ondracek is expected to fill the No. 3 singles role to start the season and beat Jamestown in a scrimmage match this week.
The team will be playing shorthanded early in the season for a variety of reasons.
"These first few matches, we're playing undermanned, but by the end of the season we'll have everybody and see what we can do," Nielson said.
The team hoping to qualify its No. 1 doubles team of Paulson and Miller for state in the individual tournament and also set a team goal is to avoid the EDC play-in match, which he said will make it an easier path for a potential state berth.
Nielson said it will be tough to accomplish but is doable.
"We are moving in the right direction competitively and skillwise," he said. "We are improving.