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Netters sweep BRC foes

Hudson No. 3 singles player Lukas Johnson hits a hard, overhand return in his straight-set win over River Falls' Hunter Squires in the Raiders' 7-0 sweep of the Wildcats Tuesday, April 24, in Hudson. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
Hudson's Tyler Grosz charges the net to return a shot in his 6-2, 6-0 victory over River Falls' Matthew Myers Tuesday, April 24, in Hudson. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 2

The only thing that's been able to keep the Hudson boys tennis team down this season is the weather.

Since having the first three weeks of the season wiped out by the cold and snow, the Raiders have won six of seven matches, including sweeping River Falls and Chippewa Falls by identical 7-0 scores in their first two Big Rivers Conference matches of the season last week.

With all but one senior back from last year's BRC runner-up team, and with all the hard work the returners have put in, head coach John Knutson said he knew this year's squad had the potential to be special. He also said the Raiders are starting off this year as well as they possible could after the back-to-back shutouts over the Wildcats and Cardinals, but there's still plenty of work to do.

"While we're happy with the two dominant wins, we still have a lot to learn at practice to be able to implement better strategies in points, games, and matches, if we are going to be the best our team can be," Knutson said. "This team has had the goal of not only winning the BRC title this year, but also to compete at state as a team, something Hudson has never done. I'm always asking the players, 'What are you willing to give to get what you want?' While they believe they can accomplish those goals, as a coach, I still need to see more of the team-first mentality, and more mental toughness to get there."

The Raiders had no trouble with River Falls at home Tuesday, April 24, winning all seven matches in straight sets. Tyler Grosz, Andrew Bolles, Lukas Johnson and Brock Wimer recorded the singles wins while Luke Holmberg and Jacob Grosz teamed up to win at No. 1 doubles, Isaac Young and Colin Pruzek won at No. 2 and Cole Peters and Jack Geurkink won at No. 3. Hudson's No. 2 and No. 3 doubles team didn't lose a point in their matches.

The Raiders had to work a little harder two days later at Chippewa Falls, pulling out three three-set victories to complete the sweep of the Cardinals.

Bolles bounced back from a 6-4 loss in his opening set at No. 2 singles to win the next two sets, 6-4, 6-1, while Wimer dropped his first set at No. 3 singles, 6-2, before winning the next two 6-4, 7-5, to record a win.

After cruising to a 6-0 win in their opening set at No. 2 doubles, Young and Pruzek were blanked 6-0 in the second set before rebounding with a 6-1 win in the third and deciding set.

"What I appreciated most in this match is the determination and mental toughness to forget that 6-0 drubbing in the second set to come back and win the third set convincingly," Knutson said about the Raiders' No. 2 doubles team. "You have to be mentally tough to pull out three-set victories and we won them all today, so I would say that we're all pretty happy."

Tyler Grosz and Johnson won by identical 6-2, 6-0 scores at No. 1 and No. 3 singles, respectively, and the No. 1 doubles team of Holmberg and Jacob Grosz won 6-4, 6-2, while Peters and Geurkink earned a 6-2, 7-5 win at No. 3 doubles.

Knutson said the Raiders will get back to work in practice before returning to BRC action at Menomonie Tuesday, May. 1, and home against Eau Claire North Thursday, May 3.

"Overall, it's hard to nit-pick with a 7-0 win," he said. "But there are still a lot of things we need to do better to play efficient matches."

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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