The Magic boys tennis team started the season with two varsity returners for 10 varsity spots. They then dropped their first three matches.
Now, eight matches later, Monti sits at 6-5 overall, and 4-0 in the Mississippi 8 with a chance to go after their first conference championship in nine years.
Coach Jeff Bordwell said he is both surprised and “really happy” with the way his Magic team has performed through the first half of the season.
“The first couple matches you could see some of that inexperience,” he said. “We’ve made huge improvements over the first three to four weeks.”
They continued to show off those improvements this weekend, at a round-robin style invite in Monti. The Magic went 2-1 on Saturday, picking up wins against Buffalo and Moorhead before falling to Brainerd, who went 3-0 on the day.
The win against Buffalo was a particularly big one, as it moved Monti to 4-0 in Mississippi 8 play. The Magic and St. Michael-Albertville are the lone undefeated teams left in the conference.
Monti is set to square off with the Knights on Monday, May 8 at STMA. If all goes well, the M8 title could be on the line.
Monti hasn’t won it since the 2008 season.
“The guys really want it,” said Bordwell. “I’m sure [STMA] will be undefeated when we play them, and hopefully we are too.”
The Magic just edged past the Bison on Saturday morning to keep the unblemished conference mark intact. Monti picked up three singles wins and one doubles win to earn a 4-3 team victory.
At singles, Monti got straight set wins from Nick Roden at No. 1, Cade Boraas at No. 2 and Zack Revenig at No. 4. Revenig, a sophomore, had to fight hard for his match. He won the first set 7-5, before winning the second set by a score of 7-6, 5.
Monti got the one win it needed on the doubles side from the top duo of Manny Dominguez and Albin Biro. They won 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.
Against Moorhead in the next match, Monti again won three singles matches but this time added wins in all three doubles matches. Boraas and Revenig picked up their second wins on the day, while seventh-grader Tyler Rousslang got his first win of the day at No. 3 singles, beating his senior opponent 6-0, 6-4.
Bordwell said that Rousslang has been a valuable addition to the Magic lineup.
“He isn’t a pusher at all, he loves to hit the ball,” said Bordwell. “He doesn’t shy away from anybody. He loves to play and compete.”
Monti then swept doubles with Dominguez and Biro, Jack Sampson and freshman Kole Stuart (No. 2 doubles), and Quinten Bianchi and Zac Schapekahm all winning in straight sets.
It was fitting that every entry in the Magic lineup picked up at least one point during the first two wins of the day, because that’s the way it has been all season for the Magic.
“There isn’t a weak spot, and that’s great,” said Bordwell. “Any given match you can get a point from any spot.”
In the final match of the day, Brainerd topped Monti 6-1. Boraas picked up the lone point for Monti, battling back from a 0-6 first set to win the next two 6-3, 10-2 and complete a 3-0 day. He leads Monti with a record of 7-4 this season. Bordwell was particularly impressed with the way Boraas played against Brainerd, as he knocked off a kid that competed in the section tournament last season.
While the whole lineup has impressed the coach, his No. 1 player Nick Roden is another guy he singled out. The junior played No. 2 doubles last season before moving to the No. 1 singles spot this year.
“It’s a huge learning curve,” said Bordwell, who said Roden has clearly been hitting his stride recently. “He worked really hard in the offseason to become a very good tennis player.”
Hard work and commitment has been the key to Monti’s success so far, said Bordwell. He said every kid is showing up at practice excited, and ready to embrace whatever they’re working on that day.
“That’s what it’s all about,” he said.
Monti was scheduled to be at Cambridge Tuesday, before hosting Chisago Lakes at 4 p.m. today, Thursday. Monday’s M8 showdown with STMA is scheduled for 4 p.m. at STMA Middle School West.
Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]