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Raider tennis team takes team title at Woodbury

Members of the Raider boys' tennis team celebrate their first place finish at the Royal/Raptor Invitational in Woodbury Saturday. Pictured are, from left, Mitch Karras, Kody Owens, Jake Huseboe, Mark Johnson, Griff Robertson, Trevor Neary, Paul Walker and Sam Duchow. Not pictured, Max Cherrier, Jake Shreffler, Noah LeBrun and Zach Hansen.

After dropping its Big Rivers Conference opener to perennial conference powerhouse Eau Claire Memorial, 6-1, last Thursday, the Raider boys' tennis team bounced back in a big way by capturing the team title at Saturday's Royal/Raptor Invitational in Woodbury.

The Raiders and East Ridge each finished with 36 points but Hudson won three flights while East Ridge won two, making Hudson the tournament champion. Lakeville North was third with 34 points. And Woodbury was fourth with 32. Other competing teams included St. Paul Central Rosemount, Hill Murray and Park Cottage Grove.

"This was a pretty strong field, so I'm quite pleased with what the team accomplished today," Raider head coach Dave Dahl said. "Hopefully we can carry this momentum into a couple of tough weeks ahead."

The Raiders return to action with a BRC match at home against Menomonie Thursday, May 2, beginning at 4 p.m. before competing at the Border Battle Tournament at Eau Claire Memorial this Friday and Saturday, May 3-4. They travel to Eau Claire North for another BRC match Monday, May 6.

Last Saturday in Woodbury, Hudson got titles from Mark Johnson at No. 1 singles, Griff Robertson and Sam Duchow at No. 1 doubles, and Mitch Karras and Jake Huseboe at No. 3 doubles to clinch the tourney title.

Johnson posted wins over opponents from Rosemount, St. Paul Central and Woodbury to win his title.

"His second and third round opponents were very good," Dahl said. "We certainly have a very talented freshman on our hands. He makes so many smart decisions during the course of a match. His mental toughness and composure on the court are well beyond what you normally see for a kid this age."

Robertson and Duchow swept duos from St. Paul Central, Woodbury and Rosemount to win the No. 1 doubles title.

"These two were steady all day long," Dahl said. "This was a great accomplishment to win the top doubles flight."

After a narrow victory over East Ridge in their opening match, Karras and Huseboe never looked back and rolled past Hill Murray and Lakeville North for the No. 3 doubles title.

Hudson's No. 2 doubles team of Jake Shreffler and Kody Owens nearly gave the Raiders their fourth championship, but fell just short to East Ridge, 5-7, 5-7, in the finals. They advanced to the title match with wins over Hill Murray and Rosemount.

Trevor Neary picked up three critical team points with a second round win over his opponent from St. Paul Central on his way to a sixth place finish at No. 3 singles, while Max Cherrier won his last match of the day to take seventh at No. 2 singles.

"After two tough losses to two great opponents, Max gutted out an important win for the team with his 3-6,7-6,10-6 victory Hill Murray," Dahl noted.

He No. 4 doubles team of Noah LeBrun and Zach Hansen also finished seventh while No. 4 singles player Paul Walker placed eighth.

Two days earlier at Eau Claire Memorial, Johnson picked up the Raiders' only team point with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Old Abe Kyle Wogahn at No. 1 singles.

"It has been many years since we've beaten them at that spot, so that's a nice win for Mark," Dahl said. "At one doubles, Griff Robertson and Sam Duchow split sets, but just couldn't finish them off in the third set."

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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