SPORTS PREVIEW: Young Ranger tennis boys look to improve in ’14

Boyer returns in quest for title

 

The 2014 Forest Lake boys tennis team hopes to improve on its record of 3-13 from last season. (Photo by Kat Ladwig)

The 2014 Forest Lake boys tennis team hopes to improve on its record of 3-13 from last season. (Photo by Kat Ladwig)

Kat Ladwig
Sports Editor

Last season a young Forest Lake boys tennis team struggled to find a groove in a difficult spring season affected by winter-like weather. The Rangers went 3-13 before falling to Chisago Lakes in the section quarterfinal to close the year.

They are still young this spring, but the return of seven letterwinners provides hope of an improved record and a deeper run in the section tournament. Head coach Greg Patchin said the latter may take time, but he is excited for the future.

“We are an exceptionally young team that is athletic, but not skilled tennis-wise yet,” Patchin said. “With a little better weather and time, they will be good.”

Senior captain Sam Hamilton will step into a larger role to help out junior all-state player Toby Boyer, who finished last year as the Class AA singles runner-up at state. Boyer’s championship-match loss to Joel Richards of Minnetonka was his only defeat of the season.

“Toby’s just all by himself,” Patchin said. “With the first coaches ranking, he’s second in state most likely because he was second last year. As far as I can see, all six of the top six are back, so it’s going to be another dogfight. But I’m thinking with how the draws are, Toby will be right there again at the end.”

Forest Lake’s remaining returners include four sophomores and one ninth-grader.

Sophomore Hunter Shortly should secure the No. 2 singles spot, but could find himself at No. 1 doubles with his versatility. Depending on the opponent, Patchin said sophomore Sam Bostrom and ninth-grader Ben Bowes can expect to sit at No. 3 and No. 4 singles. For now, Hamilton will anchor No. 1 doubles with one of two sophomores: Noah Alm or newcomer junior Brenden Babcock.

Sophomore Ross Schultz is the last letterwinner from the 2013 team, and will assist the squad at No. 2 or No. 3 doubles with sophomore Cole Emly and junior Andrew Kesar. Senior Ben Nielson will also challenge for a spot in the lineup.

“The challenge for me as a coach will be getting all the guys in their right positions where they can be successful — it will be a fun but daunting task,” Patchin said. “The kids’ attitude and athleticism has been wonderful. We emphasize fun, lots of hitting and improvement.”

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