With just a few days of indoor practice under their belt this season, the Magic tennis team stepped outside for just the second time this season on Tuesday, to play their first match of the year.
Becker made for unfriendly opening guests. The Bulldogs came to Monticello and dispatched of the Magic, 7-0.
Monticello got close, hard fought matches out of a few spots in their lineup.
Ryan Nitz, playing at three singles, went down 7-5, 6-3, while Dylan Fyle at four singles scored three points in each of his two sets.
In doubles, the second team of Logan Bican and Trevor Bautch really pushed Becker, falling in a first set tiebreak, before dropping the second set 6-4.
The sweep wasn’t a shocking result, as Becker returns nearly everyone from a squad that beat Monticello 6-1 last season on their way to a section final appearance.
“They’re very good,” said Bordwell, before Tuesday’s match. “They’ll be one of the teams contending to go to state this year.”
Monticello, meanwhile, has a few more question marks early on, but they’ll look to round into shape quickly as the schedule picks up the pace soon.
“We’ll be moving some people around early,” said Bordwell, who added that with only a few practices in, it’s tough to determine expectations for the team this early.
“It will take a week or two to see where we’re at,” he said.
There are a few areas, however, where the Magic know what they have, starting with number one singles.
Erik Hammill, a senior, returns to occupy the top spot that he moved into at the beginning of last year. Bordwell said his leadership and experience will be key to setting the tone for the lineup.
“That’s nice to have,” he said. “Especially in these early matches, experience does matter.”
Monticello has a few other players returning with experience as well, including four seniors.
Levi Biasco and Nitz both return to singles after gaining varying levels of experience last year. Biasco is returning after a particularly strong season that saw him record a winning record at four singles.
In doubles, the Magic return the senior duo of Chase Olson and Cole Guimont. They played three doubles this year, but will move up the board to number one following the graduation of the top two doubles teams. The group of seniors will be responsible for guiding the Magic ship early in the season.
“The older kids know the ropes,” said Bordwell.
Filling in the rest of the lineup to start the season will be a mix of players with some experience and no experience.
At two doubles, Monticello starts with Bautch and Bican. At three doubles, it is Teryn Eckes and Charlie Phillips and at four singles, Monticello will start Fyle, the first ninth-grader to start for Monticello in a few years.
While it’s too early to make final determinations about what kind of success Monticello will have and where they will have it, Bordwell said his singles appear to be a strong suit early. But that could change.
“It kind of depends on where I have [certain] guys,” he said.
Monticello will have plenty of opportunities to test different lineups in the early going, as the Magic face a busy schedule. Thursday, Monticello hosts Rogers at 4:15. Saturday, the Magic travel to Willmar for an invitational and Tuesday Monticello is in St. Francis for a match.
One thing that is different about this year’s busy schedule is that it won’t feature repeats. With the conference moving from six to ten teams, Monticello will play each team just once. There also won’t be a conference tournament at the end of the season.
Therefore, it will be important for Monticello to get started fast this season and take advantage of each match. With the forecast predicting sun, some warmth, and general spring weather, Bordwell said the boys are anxious to do just that.
“They want to get the tennis balls out and starting hitting,” he said. “They’re really excited.”
Contact Clay Sawatzke at firstname.lastname@example.org