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Park boys tennis: DeJene, Elliot earn trip to quarterfinals before season ends

Park doubles teams gave an impressive performance at the Individual Section 3AA Tournament.

Freshman Mekdim DeJene and junior Jacob Elliott defeated teams from Apple Valley and Eastview, earning them a spot at the section quarterfinals held on May 29.

Fifth seed DeJene and Elliott played Apple Valley in the first round. After a convincing 6-2 win in the first set, the pair fell behind 2-6 in the second. They regained momentum for a 6-1 win in the third set.

The team's positive play helped them find an easy win against Eastview in the next round. DeJene and Elliott won in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2.

The duo faced rival East Ridge in the quarterfinal match. All four players had competed against each other in the regular season as singles players. Coach Tony Townsend expected to see a close match from the players.

"This should be a great match as all four players are evenly skilled," he said.

Although Townsend hoped that his team would control the points, DeJene and Elliott ultimately fell 3-6, 2-6 against Raptors' sophomore Zach Nigatu and senior Colton Mog.

In addition, the doubles team of senior Alex Rachner and junior Lucas Lindstrom defeated Simley in the tournament's opening round. After winning a quick 6-3, 6-2 match, the pair went on to play Bloomington Jefferson in the second round.

"I thought this was their best match of the season," said Townsend, "They almost pulled off a huge upset, but came up short in a tiebreaker in the second set."

In singles play, senior Scott Johnston and sophomore Pele Le represented Park in the section tournament. Johnston lost to East Ridge's Vishaal Gupta in the first round.

"I thought [Johnston] played extremely well and it was a great way for him to end his high school career," Townsend said.

Le lost to the tournament's seventh seed, Zac Ekstein (Eagan), in the first round.

"This was a tough match for Pele, but a great learning experience for him. I am excited to have Pele back for the next two seasons and continue to watch him grow as a tennis player," said Townsend.

The conclusion of the State Tournament means that Park will have to say goodbye to seniors Alex Rachner, Nolan Mao, and Johnston from its varsity roster.

--Teresa Townsend