Boys Tennis: Red Wing clinches second consecutive conference championshipChanhassen was the final road block between Red Wing and a second consecutive Missota Conference championship Thursday and the Wingers clinched the title with a 7-0 drubbing at Twin Bluff Middle School in Red Wing.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
Chanhassen was the final road block between Red Wing and a second consecutive Missota Conference championship Thursday and the Wingers clinched the title with a 7-0 drubbing at Twin Bluff Middle School in Red Wing.
Red Wing (11-3, 7-0) began the year as favorites in the conference but despite playing up to expectations, a second title wasn’t easy.
“It wasn’t quite as handily as I thought it would be,” Wingers head coach Randy Decker said of winning the conference. “I thought we’d be a pretty clear favorite this year. It was tough. It was more satisfying than I thought it would be because it was more difficult than I thought it would be.”
Red Wing senior George Gabrielson said the Wingers were close to winning titles for multiple years and it’s been great to take control of the conference in his final two years.
“To dominate the conference is nice,” he said. “We’ve had the whole team come out and play well.”
That’s exactly what Red Wing did in the final regular season match Thursday. Gabrielson’s match at No. 1 singles was the only one the Wingers didn’t win in straight sets and that’s because Gabrielson fell behind Matt Dorn 5-1 in the first set before storming back for a 4-6, 6-0, 6-1 victory.
“I just came out and played tight,” Gabrielson said. “I was framing a lot of balls. I just had to settle down. I rattled off a few games and knew I had it.”
At No. 2 singles, Wingers sophomore Isaac Toivonen breezed past Sam Hartwick 6-0, 6-1 and Red Wing sophomore Alex Holm won his match at No. 3 singles against Jack Braaten 6-0, 6-0.
“Alex did a great job,” Decker said. “He’s coming into the net a lot. When he has a match that’s a little easier, he’ll pick something and work on it. I saw some good things there.”
Decker said he was impressed by senior Thomas Hoffman at No. 4 singles as he wore down Chanhassen’s Kyle Niebling for a 6-0, 6-3 win.
“It was a great way to end his regular season career,” he said. “He gives his opponent no hope. He never shows frustration or that he’s tired.”
The Wingers’ doubles teams all won in straight sets, including 6-0, 6-0 victories at both No. 1 and No. 2 doubles. Red Wing seniors Elliot Dietz and Steffen Bettich won 7-5, 6-1 at No. 3 doubles.
At the beginning of the season, the Wingers had three goals: to win the Missota Conference, to get the No. 1 North seed in Section 1AA and to secure a spot in the Section 1AA Final Four. Red Wing can cross the first one off the list and after Section 1AA seeding takes place Sunday, the Wingers should take care of the second with all three of their losses coming against ranked opponents.
The first round of playoffs begins Tuesday.
Wingers sit alone atop Missota Conference after win against Shakopee
Shakopee put up a fight but Red Wing held on for a 4-3 victory Wednesday in Shakopee to secure sole possession of first place in the Missota Conference.
The match began Tuesday but rain postponed play until Wednesday and Red Wing head coach Randy Decker said the weather delay proved crucial for the Wingers.
“We certainly caught a break in the rain out for several reasons,” he said. “Jackson Allen (Shakopee’s No. 1 singles player) turned out sick and also their doubles team came out aggressive and hot (Tuesday) and they had us on our heels. We were definitely in trouble.”
Coming back Wednesday, Red Wing raised its level of play, Decker said.
Sophomore Isaac Toivonen won by injury default at No. 1 singles but the Wingers got big wins from senior George Gabrielson at No. 2 singles, sophomore Noah Christenson at No. 4 singles and a comeback victory for sophomore Marcus Veith and eighth-grader Travis Toivonen at No. 3 doubles to clinch the match.
“Marcus and Travis really played great,” Decker said. “Marcus stepped up as a leader; he was positive, he was vocal. It was a really important performance for him. They’re really raised their game to a new level.”
Gabrielson said Red Wing knew Shakopee would be a tough test and despite needing one more win to secure a second consecutive conference championship with an undefeated conference season, the top spot was decided with Wednesday’s win.
“That was huge,” he said of the victory. “We really knew we had to show up and play and we did.”