Tennis: Raiders tune up with win over Cobblers
Josh Benham Journal correspondent
“We’re getting mentally and physically stronger with these matches," Rapid City Stevens' Chuck Tang.
Rapid City Stevens aced its tune-up before an early litmus test next weekend.
The No. 3-ranked Raiders received strong play from their doubles teams and, despite some close calls, made it through singles unscathed to defeat Rapid City Central 9-0 on Thursday at Parkview Tennis Courts.
On a nice day for the first week of the season, the doubles squads for Stevens (2-0) consistently controlled the points from the net and coasted to easy victories in Flights 2 and 3, a good sight prior to a three-day road trip that features Stevens taking on top-ranked Watertown on Friday in Watertown.
In Flight 1 the Raiders also won in two sets, but the Central tandem of Nathanial Cherry and Riley Iwan made the top Stevens duo of James Ferrier and Chuck Tang sweat out a 6-3, 6-4 victory.
“I was really impressed with how well Central’s (No. 1) doubles team played,” Raider head coach Jason Olson said. “That was a good match for our boys because we know Nathanial’s a good player, but his partner played great.”
With the benefits of Flight 1 being a competitive match, Olson also was glad to see the two other doubles teams play well together.
“It was good tennis, and for us to compete at state, like I say every year, it’s got to be doubles that does it,” he said. “(Flight 2 and 3) doubles did a great job getting it done; (Flight 1) doubles had a bit of a dogfight, which you want early.”
Ferrier spearheaded a sweep of the singles with an impressive 6-3, 6-1 Flight 1 singles win over Cherry.
“James played so well in his singles match,” Olson said. “Those are probably two of the top four kids in the state. Last year it was a tough year for James playing Flight 1. There were some tough losses, but you learn, and I think he’s matured, and as a senior he’s ready to have a good year.”
Tang equally dominated his Flight 2 match against the Cobblers’ Alex Norlin 6-2, 6-0. With the season still young, the sophomore said it was good to get on the court and develop the consistency needed in May.
“I just tried to play my game, play normal so that once it comes to state you’ll still play that same way,” Tang said. “We’re getting mentally and physically stronger with these matches.”
The Cobblers (0-4) did see some bright spots in singles play. Central’s John Robidoux won the second set against Lane Culey in Flight 3, as did his brother Michael in Flight 6 against Trae Olson, before both Stevens players scored 10-6 wins in third-set tiebreakers.
“They both played excellent. I’m very pleased with John and Michael,” Central head coach Lynne Steinley said. “Every match I think is a learning experience, and we see what we can do better today and use it for tomorrow.”
The Raiders next play duals against Pierre and Aberdeen Central on Thursday in Pierre, while Central travels to Spearfish on Saturday.