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Senior Chris Shaw received Mid-State Conference honors and was named the Most Valuable Player on the Park Rapids boys tennis team.

Panthers improved during season

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  Even though the Park Rapids boys tennis team didn’t win a match this spring, head coach Jeff Renner continued to see improvement from his players.

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     Renner knew it would be a challenge for the Panthers to win a dual meet since Staples-Motley didn’t field a team and Perham and Wadena-Deer Creek merged teams.

     That proved to be the case as the Panthers went 0-13 in dual meets, opening the season with 7-0 losses to Hibbing, Foley and Crookston; a 6-1 loss to East Grand Forks; a 7-0 loss to Thief River Falls; and 6-1 losses to Detroit Lakes, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle and Wadena-Deer Creek/Perham.

     At the Mid-State Conference tournament, the Panthers placed fourth with 14 points. Detroit Lakes won the conference title with 23 points.

     The Panthers played their best tennis at the end of the season with a 4-3 loss to Detroit Lakes, a 5-2 loss to East Grand Forks, a 7-0 loss to Crookston and a 6-1 loss to Bemidji.

     Park Rapids received the No. 6 seed for the Section 8A tournament and was eliminated with a 7-0 loss to No. 3 East Grand Forks. No. 1 Thief River Falls defeated No. 2 Crookston 6-1 in the section title match.

     “We’re still building the program,” said Renner. “We didn’t win any duals, but we won some matches in those duals and we had a lot of close matches that we couldn’t quite finish off. The kids made a lot of improvement this year.”

     For the season, the Panthers had 13 individuals compete in a varsity match. That group featured seniors Josh Johnson and Chris Shaw; juniors Calvin Bateman and Iain Wallace; and sophomores Alex Boyd, Jeff Dickinson, Tristan Hendrickson, Brandon Johnson, Jackson Kimball, Nick Lopez, Jaden Olson, Zach Tretbar and Andrew Zinke.

     Shaw and Bateman earned Mid-State Conference honors after placing second at No. 1 doubles at the conference tournament. That duo received the No. 6 seed in doubles for the section tournament and went 1-1 to end the season with a 4-5 record as doubles partners.

     Shaw was named the team’s Most Valuable Player after going 0-4 at No. 1 singles and 4-7 at No. 1 doubles while Bateman went 0-2 at No. 1 singles, 0-4 at No. 2 singles, 0-2 at No. 3 singles and 3-4 at No. 1 doubles.

     Dickinson and Lopez received all-conference honorable mention honors after winning the Mid-State title at No. 2 doubles. That duo was the No. 8 seed in doubles for the section tournament and went 1-1 to end with a 6-3 record as doubles partners.

     Dickinson compiled a 0-5 record at No. 3 singles, a 0-1 record at No. 4 singles, a 0-2 record at No. 1 doubles and a 5-2 record at No. 2 doubles while Lopez went 0-2 at No. 1 singles, 0-4 at No. 2 singles, 0-1 at No. 3 singles and 5-2 at No. 2 doubles.

     Josh Johnson received the team’s Spirit Award and went 0-6 at No. 1 singles, 0-1 at No. 4 singles, 1-6 at No. 1 doubles and 0-1 at No. 3 doubles. Johnson finished fourth at No. 1 singles at the conference meet and was the No. 9 seed in singles for the section tournament.

     Wallace finished fourth at the conference meet at No. 2 singles and was the No. 12 seed in singles for the section tournament. Wallace went 0-1 at No. 1 singles, 0-5 at No. 2 singles, 0-5 at No. 4 singles, 0-1 at No. 1 doubles and 0-2 at No. 2 doubles.

     Olson and Kimball finished second at No. 3 doubles at the Mid-State tournament and compiled a 0-1 record at No. 1 doubles, 2-4 record at No. 2 doubles and 2-5 record at No. 3 doubles. Kimball also went 0-1 at No. 2 singles while Olson went 0-1 at No. 3 singles.

     Tretbar placed fourth at No. 3 singles at the conference tournament and finished the season with a 0-1 record at No. 2 singles, a 0-5 record at No. 3 singles, a 0-1 record at No. 4 singles and a 1-5 record at No. 3 doubles.

     Hendrickson placed fourth at No. 4 singles at the conference tournament and compiled a 0-1 record at No. 3 singles, a 0-3 record at No. 4 singles and a 1-2 record at No. 3 doubles.

     Boyd went 0-4 at No. 4 singles, 0-2 at No. 2 doubles and 0-2 at No. 3 doubles while Brandon Johnson and Zinke both went 0-2 at No. 3 doubles.

     Kimball was named the Panthers’ Most Improved Player and Brandon Johnson received the team’s Hardest Worker award. Freshman Bobby Bruce was named the teams’ Most Promising Player.

     The Panthers have to replace the spots filled by Shaw and Josh Johnson, but the return of the other eight starters plus some talented junior varsity and junior high players provides a bright future.

     “I see this team being a lot better next year. It’s still going to be a young team, but I expect these kids to continue to improve,” said Renner. “Hopefully they can go .500 or better next year. They have the potential to do that.”

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