Panthers enter rebuilding season
The graduation of eight varsity players has the Park Rapids boys tennis team entering a rebuilding season this spring.
With only senior Alex Renner, juniors Scott Smith and Mitch Fossen, and sophomore Chris Shaw returning from last year's varsity team, the Panthers will be relying on first-year varsity players to put a competitive lineup on the courts.
Renner returns at No. 1 singles after posting a 14-8 record in singles last season. Renner was the Mid-State Conference runner-up at No. 1 singles and ended the season by placing fourth in singles at the Section 8A tournament.
Smith went 1-4 at No. 2 singles, 7-6 at No. 1 doubles and 2-0 at No. 2 doubles last season. Smith was the conference runner-up at No. 1 doubles and went 1-1 in doubles at the section meet.
Fossen returns after posting a 1-5 record at No. 3 doubles last spring.
Shaw went 0-4 at No. 3 and No. 4 singles and 5-11 at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles last season. Shaw finished third at No. 3 doubles at the conference meet.
Filling the other starting positions on last year's team that went 3-10 in dual meets and placed third at the conference tournament were Mark Bravo (1-3 at No. 4 singles), Max Brown (10-10 at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles), Kyle Dickinson (9-11 in doubles), James Kujawa (9-11 in doubles), Armando Padilla (3-12 in singles), Jonah Pearson (1-10 in singles and 3-6 in doubles), Steve Smith (5-6 at No. 2 singles and 1-1 at No. 1 doubles) and Bob Swanstrom (0-6 at No. 4 singles and 0-8 at No. 3 doubles). Dickinson and Kujawa placed second at No. 2 doubles at the conference meet and joined Steve Smith (singles) and Brown (doubles) at the section meet.
Looking to replace that graduated class are senior Matt Sullivan; freshmen Calvin Bateman, Colten Carey, Steve Osterman and Iain Wallace; and eighth graders Jeff Dickinson and Jaden Olson.
"The next few years are going to be rebuilding years," said Park Rapids head coach Jeff Renner, whose team opened the season with a 5-2 loss to Long Prairie-Grey Eagle. "We have some potential. Hopefully we can pick up a few wins this year."