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Netters ready for showdown

Hudson's Isaac Young hits a hard, overhand smash at the net for a point in his No. 2 doubles match with teammate Blake Royer in the Raiders' 7-0 win over Eau Claire North Thursday, May 3, in Hudson. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
Hudson's Andrew Bolles returns a shot in his 6-0, 6-2 victory at No. 2 singles in the Raiders' 7-0 win over Eau Claire North Thursday, May 3, in Hudson. Bob Burrows / RiverTowns Multimedia 2 / 2

Now it's crunch time.

Since suffering their only loss of the season to Germantown at the Oconomowoc Quad April 21, the Raider boys tennis team has rattled off seven straight victories, including Big Rivers Conference sweeps of River Falls, Menomonie, Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire North, and three wins at the Stevens Point Quad last weekend, to improve to 10-1 on the season.

What's left? If the Raiders have any hopes of snapping Eau Claire Memorial's 21-year grip on the BRC title they will need all hands on deck when they see the Old Abes in a home dual Tuesday, May 8, and at the BRC Tournament Saturday, May 12, at Eau Claire North.

"While we won today, and made it look easy with another 7-0 victory, our players along with Coach Dahl and I know that we have a long way to go and much to improve upon if we have plans of meeting our goal this year to win the conference," head coach John Knutson said after the Raiders' latest BRC victory over Eau Claire North Thursday, May 3. "And beyond that, instead of just sending a couple players to state, this team has had the goal for the Hudson Raiders to represent our section at the WIAA state tournament as a team as well."

With four of the five conference duals in the books, Hudson is a perfect 28-0 in individual matches. In doubles action at Eau Claire North, the No. 1 team of Luke Holmberg and Jacob Grosz, the No. 2 duo of Isaac Young and Blake Royer, and the No. 3 team of Cole Peters and Jack Geurkink all blanked their Eau Claire North opponents without yielding a single game, winning each of their respective matches by scores of 6-0, 6-0.

The Raiders did almost as well in singles play. Tyler Grosz won at 6-1, 6-0 at No. 1, Andrew Bolles 6-0, 6-2 at No. 2, Lukas Johnson 6-1, 6-0 at No. 3, and Brock Wimer 6-1, 6-0 at No. 4.

"That was a pretty dominating performance," he said. "When you win 84 games and only lose five all night, that's as good as you can expect."

Assistant coach John Dahl was equally impressed.

"It's nice to see our players implement many of the things we work on at practice with regard to point strategy, defining our strengths and playing to them, and constantly trying to improve our focus and mental toughness," he said. "It was an impressive outing today."

Earlier in the week against Menomonie, Tyler Grosz and Bolles won by identical 6-2, 6-1 scores at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively, and Johnson and Wimer each posted 6-2, 6-0 wins at No. 3 and No. 4. Jacob Grosz and Holmberg posted a 6-4, 6-3 win at the No. 1 doubles spot, Young and Royer cruised 6-0, 6-0 at No. 2 and Peters and Geurkink won 6-2, 7-5 at No. 3.

The Raiders continued their strong play at the Stevens Point Quad, sweeping Chippewa Falls for the second time this season, 7-0, beating Eau Claire Regis, 6-1, and rolling past host Stevens Point, 7-0.

Knutson said he's excited to see where the Raiders can go from here.

"Hudson has never been to state as a team," he said. "If we're going to get there, we still have a lot of work to do, but I love how our guys stick together and fight hard to win. So far the mindset of the team has been pretty impressive."

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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