The top two spots for the Brainerd Warriors boys tennis team are locked.
The remainder of the roster will be determined leading up to the Warriors’ home and season opener against the St. Cloud Apollo Eagles on Thursday.
Returning to his perch atop the lineup will be senior Cole Sundquist. After jumping up from the No. 4 singles spot to No. 1 last year, Sundquist is poised to have a successful second season.
“Cole has played a lot this winter and has prepared himself well for the year,” said Warriors head coach Bruce Thompson. “I really appreciate that and as one of our captains that shows great leadership in that respect.
“He’s done a lot of things to better his play. He played in a lot of tournaments over the summer and spent a lot of time at Gold’s Gym in Sartell playing. He has a passion for the game.”
Thompson said he’s seeing improved power and consistency out of Sundquist that he hopes will lead to him becoming a solid weapon at the No. 1 singles spot.
In practice, Sundquist has had his hands full with returning No. 2 singles player Jordan Shiltz. The senior also played a lot of tennis over the summer.
“He’s such a strong player,” Thompson said of Shiltz. “He’s got some things to work on, but he competes so well. He’s got quick feet, but his biggest strength is that he competes all the time and stays in the point. He plays really smart. He’s a great No. 2 player to have.”
There’s a three-way battle to fill the two remaining singles spots. Bobby Posch, Luke Jacobsen and freshman DJ Kraemer are competing for those positions.
“It’s a question mark right now and another question mark is our doubles lineup,” said Thompson. “We have a number of players for those six spots. All the guys have some skills and talents, but it will come down to who plays well with who and who gets those two singles spots that determines the lineup.”
Returning doubles players are juniors Trent Anderson and Gunnar Askegaard and sophomore Reno Fussy.
Competing for spots will be Ben Anderholm, Parker Sundquist, Ryan Bell, Jared Stearns, Kyle Helmberger, Kyle Johnson and Jack Eggen.
The Warriors benefited from having Tuesday off, while the rest of the Central Lakes Conference teams opened their schedules. Thompson said St. Cloud Tech is the early favorite among a number of teams that are close together, including Alexandria, Fergus Falls, Willmar and Brainerd.
The top Section 8-2A team remains Elk River, which was ranked No. 7 in the Minnesota Tennis Coaches Association’s preseason poll.
“Our strength is going to be having at least a core of five returning players so we’re not starting over,” said Thompson. “We graduated some really nice kids in Jordan Goos, Jordan Posch, Chris Rud, Garth Askegaard and Dylan Wheeler. They were nice young men.
“We lost five, but we have five coming back. Those five have stepped up and played a lot during the summer. We need all of our kids playing the summer program. You have to credit that summer program because the kids that played are those that do better.”
Seniors: Jack Eggen, Jeffrey Grimsley, Jordan Shiltz, Cole Sundquist, Ben Hermerding
Juniors: Benjamin Anderholm, Trent Anderson, Gunnar Askegaard, Adam Dirks, Louis Grabowski, Joseph Houston, Brendan Pelkey, Robert Posch, Jared Stearns
Sophomores: Ryan Bell, Reno Fussy, Kyle Helmberger, Eric Holub, Luke Jacobsen, Kyle Johnson, Parker Sundquist, Alec Werthman
Freshmen: Troy Bialka, Taylor Campbell, Nick Goll, DJ Kraemer, Daniel Larson, Isaac Overland, Basil Swaggert, Gus Askegaard, Grant Helwig