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Netters top North, 2nd at ECM

High School Tennis

The Raider boys tennis team made three trips in three days to Eau Claire last week and came away successful all three times, beating Eau Claire North, 6-1, in a Big Rivers Conference match Thursday and taking second at the two-day Eau Claire Memorial "Great 8" Tournament Friday and Saturday.

Hudson won three of four singles matches and swept all three doubles matches Thursday at Eau Claire North.

Luke Holmbeg dispatched his Eau Claire North opponent in what head coach John Knutson described as "record time," in a 6-0, 6-0 straight set victory at No. 2 singles Andrew Bolles toughed out a 6-3, 7-5 win at No. 3 while Andre Burgess won 6-1, 6-1 at No. 4.

Knutson said Bolles' confidence has been growing lately.

"He lost a couple matches earlier in the season that I think he thought he should have won for the team," Knutson noted. "He's one of the best hitters on the team when he plays confident, like he is now."

Hudson's doubles teams lost a combined total of just five games while sweeping the Huskies. Toby Haynor and Isaac Young won 6-1, 6-1 at the No. 1 spot, Blake Royer and Lukas Johnson won 6-1, 6-0 at No. 2, and Colin Pruzek and Cole Peters won 6-3, 6-0.

The Raiders only loss came at No. 1 singles, where Tyler Grosz lost a 7-5, 6-3 decision to undefeated Nick LaPoint.

Friday and Saturday the Raiders joined Onalaska, Brookfield East, Buffalo, Woodbury, Stillwater, Eau Claire North and host Eau Claire Memorial for the "Great 8" Tournament.

On Friday, the Raiders swept Buffalo, 7-0, and Woodbury, 6-1, while Saturday they blanked Onalaska, 7-0, before suffering their only loss of the tournament to Stillwater, 6-1.

Royer and Johnson earned the lone Raider point in the loss to Stillwater with a 6-1, 6-1 victory to finish the tournament undefeated.

"Royer and Johnson are really playing well now," Knutson said. "Early in the year we tried a couple combinations with players and lineups, but this is definitely our solid No. 2 doubles team now. When they've played together they are undefeated on the year with a 9-0 record."

Knutson said the 7-0 win over Onalaska was closer than the score indicated, with the Raiders needing three third-set tiebreakers to earn the shutout.

"The 7-0 score sounds great but we had to fight to win the tie breakers," he said. "Had we lost all of them it would have appeared to be a close 4-3 match. Our team values mental toughness and it was fully exhibited today by winning all three tie-breakers. Tennis is such a mental game, and today, our guys were mentally tougher."

The Raiders continued their season-long road trip with another visit to Eau Claire this past Tuesday, May 9, for a BRC dual at Eau Claire Memorial before the BRC Tournament at Eau Claire North Saturday, May 13.

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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