Valley City tennis looked to make progress when they hit the road for their Eastern Dakota Conference match at Grand Forks Central on Tuesday.
Central took the match 9-0, but Hi-Liner coach Matt Nielson definitely sees improvement.
Nielson noted that Valley City's No. 1 and No. 2 doubles teams both lost by a tie-breaker and a break. The No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4 singles teams fell by a break each set.
"Talking with (GF Central Head Coach Max Weisser), he said that his top nine players played indoors for the whole winter," Nielson said. "Central (qualified for State) last year and only lost one player from that team. We only beat Wahpeton in the EDC last year, and lost our No. 2, No. 5, No. 6, and No. 7. The positive is that we were very competitive in five matches against a very good team that has us beat hands down on experience and practice time."
In singles competition (with Hi-Liner players listed first), senior Derek Reimers lost to Andrew Thompson, 6-4, 6-4. Senior Dustin Miller lost to Dallas Chambers, 6-2, 6-1. Sophomore Dalton Ondracek lost to Kyle Folson, 6-4, 6-3. Sophomore Brandon Miller lost to Christian Wedin, 7-5, 6-4. Senior Jacob Wendel lost to Ethan Comeau, 6-0, 6-0. Eighth-grader Evan Haglund lost to Noah Cicklinski, 6-0, 6-0.
"The unforced errors (in singles) seemed to be the common thread. We made poor shot selections, ran through shots, swung when we should have volleyed, recovered poorly, racquet prepped too late, and lacked urgency and anticipation. Good thing it's (EDC rival Grand Forks Red River) on Thursday (Aug. 29), then the following match won't be until the following Thursday to give us some time."
Doubles play saw Reimers and Dustin Miller fall to Thompson Chambers, 7-6(2), 6-4. Ondracek and Brandon Miller fell to Folson and Andy Manske, 7-6(4), 6-4. Wendel and Haglund fell to Matt Picklo/Brian Neste, 6-0, 6-3.
"I was extremely impressed at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles," Nielson said. "We looked like doubles teams out there, instead of looking like two individuals playing tennis on the same side of the court. Cutting down on a few unforced errors due to footwork, standing up on shots, and looking away from the ball could have been the difference in winning the first set versus losing. Both teams are on a proverbial hump – we need to figure out a way to get over it and soon."
In JV matches, Sam Jenson and Zach Baumgartner lost, 8-5. Jenson and Brighton Smith lost, 8-4. Smith and Baumgartner lost, 6-2. Jenson won the first singles match of his career, 8-4.
"We had those five matches where each set were tight," Nielson said. "Some of it was Central rising, but we tightened up with the set or match on the line, I was proud of the kids for giving 100 percent. We did tighten up, but it wasn't giving up. We have more potential than our players realize."