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Park boys tennis: Wolfpack finishes first week with .500 overall record

The Park boys tennis team worked to find its rhythm and finished its first week of season play with a .500 record.

Solid and aggressive play led to a 6-1 victory against Farmington, but a mix of unforced errors and missing mental toughness led to a 7-0 loss against Suburban East Conference rival East Ridge.

All but one of the singles matches ended in a Park victory on April 11 against Farmington (0-2). No. 1 singles player Mekdim DeJene won 6-3, 6-2. No. 2 singles junior Jacob Elliott lost a three set match that coach Tony Townsend said, "could have gone either way." Third singles senior Scott Johnson won 6-4, 7-5 and fourth singles junior Charlie Link won 6-2, 6-4.

Park (1-1) swept Farmington in doubles. No. 1 doubles senior Alex Rachner and junior Lucas Lindstrom won 7-6, 6-3 after changing their tactics.

"Our one doubles kind of started flat but then they picked it up," Townsend said. "They were getting lobbed a lot, so they changed their position a little bit. They stayed back, did more with their shots, which allowed them to get to the net."

No. 2 doubles sophomore Pele Le and junior David Link won 6-2, 6-1 and third doubles sophomore Sam Forthun and junior Alec Strauss won 6-4, 6-1.

"The opposing coach made a comment. He said our doubles just played more aggressively, we got to the net more often, put away more volleys," Townsend said.

The confidence and mental toughness that contributed to the Pack's first victory was absent for their game against East Ridge (4-0) the next day. But despite the 7-0 score, three of the matches went to three sets.

At No. 1 singles DeJene won his first set 6-1, lost the second 1-6, and lost 1-7 in a third-set tiebreaker. "It was a back-and-forth match and both players played outstanding. Mekdim had a chance to close it out at 6-5 as he was on serve. Unfortunately, (East Ridge's Zach Nigatu) was able to break him and send it to a tiebreaker and Mekdim got behind 1-4 and couldn't dig himself out of that hole," said Townsend. "Jacob Elliott played two great sets and then ran out of steam in the third set as Colton Mog found another gear. We made too many unforced errors at third and fourth singles, and never got into much of a rhythm," Townsend continued.

Tight doubles matches kept the day competitive. No. 2 doubles duo Lindstrom and Rachner played three close sets, winning the first 6-4, but losing the next two 4-6, 3-6.

"We had our chances to win at second and third doubles. We had difficulty stringing points together. We were too inconsistent and East Ridge did a better job with mental toughness and closing out crucial points," said Townsend, adding, "I told my players that we have to learn from this match and build off the positives and continue to improve each and every day. I was very pleased with their effort and the way they battled throughout this match."

Park's April 13 match against Como Park was rained out. Park played at Tartan on Monday and at Hastings on Tuesday after the Bulletin went to press. They will play at home against conference opponent Woodbury on Thursday at 3:30, and at home against Simley on Friday at 3:30.