For the past four seasons there were two questions Bruce Thompson didn’t have to worry about.
This season, Thompson’s 16th, the Brainerd Warriors head boys tennis coach will have to make a few decisions.
At the top of Thompson’s to-do list will be determining who the No. 1 and No. 2 singles players are this season. For the past two seasons it was Cole Sundquist and Jordan Shiltz. The three years before that it was Devin Larson and Morgan Salo.
So far those two positions are still up for grabs.
“We’re still trying to figure out who those kids are,” said Thompson. “We still need a few more challenge matches and a few more days so we can see where kids are. I need a crystal ball.”
Last year’s No. 3 singles player, Luke Jacobsen, and No. 4 singles player, DJ Kraemer, are in contention for the top two spots, as are doubles players Gunnar Askegaard and Reno Fussy.
Other returners from last year’s 10-4 season are Ben Anderholm, Trent Anderson, Robert Posch, Jared Stearns, Ryan Bell and Parker Sundquist.
“Trent Anderson is a doubles guy,” Thompson said. “Actually, and he would be the first to admit it, but he’s struggling with his stroke right now. Gunnar can go either singles or doubles. He played doubles last year, but he may have to do singles.
“Bobby Posch is hitting the ball well. Jared is probably a doubles guy. Ryan Bell — not sure. Reno is undefeated in singles play in our challenge matches, but he prefers doubles. He may have to work both.
“Luke is a singles guy, but he’s struggling. Luke isn’t where he needs or wants to be right now. Parker could play singles or doubles. DJ is going to be a singles player. Right now he’s also undefeated. We just need more time to figure out where everyone is going to line up.”
Time is running short as the Warriors open with Section 8-2A and Central Lakes Conference favorite St. Cloud Tech Tuesday. Thompson believes, despite the lack of a clear No. 1 player, that Brainerd could contend in the North Subsection with Alexandria and Bemidji.
He said the key will be how quickly he finds his lineup. That, however, will likely change often in the early part of the season.
“What’s going to happen, we’re going to get into some matches and things might click and they might not,” Thompson said. “Things are going to change and they’ll change rapidly after the first three, four and five matches. If a combination isn’t working at all, we need to change it. We may have to break up some doubles teams to play singles. If we’re going up against a tough singles opponent we may stack our doubles.
“As far as who plays No. 1, this might be a growing year. You know you’re going to play the other team’s best player and this year we might take our lumps at No. 1 singles. But I’ve seen some good play and growth from our players. A lot of guys are hitting a better ball. They played a lot last summer and this winter.”
Perennial favorite Elk River is no longer in Section 8-2A. Brainerd will host the North Subsection 8-2A team and individual tournaments with the section finals to be played in St. Cloud.
“Every week we have to get better,” Thompson said. “We still have to get the rust off the rackets. We have a couple of guys that need to hit the ball better.
“We’ve had a great spring. We’ve been able to get on the courts, but we still have to get going. We’re not where we need to be right now.”
Seniors: Ben Anderholm, Trent Anderson, Gunnar Askegaard, Louis Grabowski, Joseph Houston, Brendan Pelkey, Robert Posch, Jared Stearns, Adam Warren
Juniors: Peyton Argir, Ryan Bell, Jacob Donnay, Reno Fussy, Kyle Helmberger, Eric Holub, Luke Jacobsen, Kyle Johnson, Bryton Mutz, Jed Rusk, Parker Sundquist
Sophomores: Gus Askegaard, Troy Bialka, Nick Goll, Grant Helwig, DJ Kraemer, Daniel Larson, Basil Swaggert
Freshmen: Joe Anderholm, Brady Bordwell, Connor Gunsbury, Ben Hanson, Brendan Hermerding, Jordan Kleist, Isaac Nadeau, Jacob Norr, Billy Rosekrans
April 10, at St. Cloud Tech 4:30 p.m.
April 13, at Bemidji 4:30 p.m.
April 17, at St. Cloud Apollo 4:30 p.m.
April 19, at Alexandria 4:30 p.m.
April 20, Moorhead 4:30 p.m.
April 23, Sartell 4:30 p.m.
April 24, at Fergus Falls 4:30 p.m.
April 26, at Willmar 4:30 p.m.
April 28, at Moorhead Invite
April 30, Willmar 3 p.m.
May 1, St. Cloud Tech 4:30 p.m.
May 7, St. Cloud Apollo 4:30 p.m.
May 8, Alexandria 4:30 p.m.
May 10, at Sartell 4:30 p.m.
May 15, Fergus Falls 4:30 p.m.
May 19, Brainerd Invite 9 a.m.
May 22, North Subsection 8-2A team playoffs at Brainerd
May 24, North Subsection 8-2A individual playoffs at Brainerd
May 29, Section 8-2A team championship at St. Cloud
May 30, Section 8-2A individual championship at St. Cloud
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5856.