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Boys Tennis: Experienced group back to crash the net

The 2014 edition of the Red Wing boys tennis team is going to look exactly like the 2013 version. Well, almost identical.

Isaac Toivonen, Alex Holm, Luke Bryant, Nick Powers, Travis Toivonen and Marcus Veith were All-Conference players last year, and Noah Christenson was honorable mention. Six of those seven return, with the exception of Bryant, who graduated last spring.

“We just have to find someone to take Luke’s spot,” said Wingers head coach Mathew Kavanagh. “It’s difficult to say for certain until we get on the courts and see where everyone is at.”

Isaac Toivonen went to state singles last year where he lost 6-4, 6-2 to Eagan’s Zach Ekstein in the first round, and in the consolation final (6-2, 6-2) to Thomas McCallie of Burnsville. Toivonen was the first Winger to qualify for state since 2007, and will be looking to make another run through Section 1AA this season.

“He did really well (at the state tournament),” Kavanagh said. “He came up against a seeded player in the first round, and lost a competitive match. Then he won twice and lost to another good player in the consolation final. That was excellent for him to get that many matches and not be a two-and-done guy. I can’t see why he can’t make it again unless there are some curveballs from some other schools. But I think he should be able to get back and win some (matches) in the main draw this time.”

Should the lineup make it to Saturday unscathed, the following positions should be set: No. 1 singles Isaac Toivonen, No. 2 singles Holm, No. 3 singles Christenson and No. 2 doubles with Travis Toivonen and Veith. Last year, No. 1 doubles was Bryant and Powers, so one spot will be different.

Kavanagh could make some moves to fill the final singles spot, or change his doubles teams, but the coach is hesitant to do so.

“All those guys are pretty seasoned doubles players, so I’d like to keep them there. And the top three singles guys are seasoned there, so I’d like to keep those six where they are,” Kavanagh said.

Red Wing’s first match is Saturday in Anoka, so Kavanagh is going to take a group to Rochester Tuesday to get some court time before seeing live action for the first time.

“We’ve been inside just doing some training, but I’m going to Rochester Tuesday with 11 guys for some practice and some training before Saturday’s meet. Last year we only had one day before our first competition, and it didn’t work all that well and we want to be prepared for Anoka and Becker.”

Getting a non-conference look at the lineup is also different than last year, where Missota Conference foe Shakopee was waiting as the Wingers’ first opponent.

“It’s a good opportunity to see where everyone is at with their level. Everyone is enthusiastic, but it’s so hard until they start hitting the ball in matches with properly constructed points,” Kavanagh said. “It’s not a conference match, and that’s a good thing. Last year it was Shakopee and that came down to who would win the conference.”

Conference titles are a long way away, and with the weather forecast calling for late-week snow, the season may be on hold as well. But Kavanagh has figured out a way to keep the Wingers’ ready.

“It always difficult to keep kids occupied indoors,” Kavanagh said. “We usually reserve the last 10-15 minutes for dodge ball. That’s different and it keeps it fun and interesting for them. The courts are looking capable right now, we just need some nets. Four days ago it was completely white, and now you can see it all. I hope we can get out there soon.”

Kyle Stevens
Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
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