RCS Raider Boys' Tennis
2007 Pre-Season News
The 2007 boys' team is looking forward to another great year. Topping the 2006 season will be difficult, but the 2007 Raiders return six varsity players who have combined to win 13 individual state titles. The 2006 Raiders went undefeated on the way to winning their first ever state title. The Raider boys won 7 of the 9 flights at state and set a state record for the most points ever won. The Raiders were almost perfect as Corey Paluch lost a tough Flight 1 final and Cody Malik also lost a battle at #5. Players winning state titles were: Billy Paluch at #2, Gib Moyle at #3, Jack Hamburg at #4, JJ Shultz at #6, Billy Paluch/Corey Paluch at #1 doubles, Jack Hamburg/Cody Malik at #2 doubles, and Gib Moyle/JJ Shultz at #3 doubles.
The Raiders will be a heavy favorite in 2007 because of who they return, but quite a few teams twill have a chance to knock off the Raiders. SF O'Gorman, Brookings, and Aberdeen Roncalli head the list and are all very strong and talented teams according to Coach Olson. "Don (Barnes, the SFO coach) always puts a tough team on the court. He does a great job of getting his kids to compete. Brookings has a tough 1-2 combo, and Roncalli will also be very tough." RC Central and Watertown will also be considered state contenders.
The Raiders now know what it takes to win a state team title, but they have never been returning champs. "We know everyone will be gunning for us and that there will be a lot of pressure on us, but our kids know what it is like to play under pressure," said Jason Olson. That aside, the competition within the Raider team might even be tougher as they all fight for the #1 spot left vacant by Corey Paluch, the player with the most wins in the history of SD boys' tennis. The Raiders return 6 varsity players including 2 seniors (Cody Malik and Phil Henzlik), 2 juniors (Gib Moyle and JJ Shultz), 1 sophomore (Billy Paluch), and 1 eighth grader (Jack Hamburg).
"We have quite a few JV players returning that would also like to play varsity. To be honest, our second team would have probably taken 3rd or 4th in that state last year. We lost a lot of good JV players in 2006, but we return a ton of talent. Our JV is always tough." expressed the Raider coach.
The 2007 Raiders begin practice on Monday, March 12th at Sioux Park. Coach Olson is expecting close to 50 boys to be out for tennis. Coach Olson will be assisted by Dale Nuttle and Steve Ringo who will work with the Raider Middle School Team.
Playing a tough schedule is nothing new for the Raiders. The Raiders play what is considered to be one of, if not the toughest schedule in the state. They will kick off the season with a match against Aberdeen Central on March 30 before they meet their cross-town rivals, RC Central, on Thursday, April 5th. RC Central returns a strong team and second year coach, Scott Sturlaugson, will make sure the Cobblers are ready. The Raiders play every team except Mitchell, Brandon Valley, Huron, Vermillion, and Milbank .
The 2007 schedule features home matches against some of the top teams in the state. Aberdeen Central (Friday, March 30), RC Central (Tuesday, April 21) Pierre (Friday, April 27), Aberdeen Roncalli (Friday, April 27), and SF O'Gorman in the Rapid City Invitational (Saturday, April 28). The GDC is also in Rapid City this year.
Playing on the road is something the Raiders have become used to and 2007 will be no different. 19 of the Raiders 27 scheduled matches are on the road. The Raiders will be on the road a lot in 2007 with trips to Sturgis (Tuesday, April 10), Pierre (Thursday, April 12), Brookings (Friday, April 13), Yankton (Saturday, April 14), Spearfish (Monday, April 30), Sioux Falls (Friday and Saturday, May 11 and 12) and Sioux Falls again for state (Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 17-19).
Hopefully, playing a tough schedule will prepare the Raiders to capture their second straight state tournament title in Sioux Falls, May 17-19.
State May 2007
Before the season started everyone was basically giving the state title to the Raiders, but as the season went on many felt the Raiders could be defeated. Even though the Raiders ended the season 22-0, 7-0 in the GDC, and won the Rapid City Invitational many teams felt like they had narrowed the gap on the Raiders. There were many reasons for this. The Raiders had just about every varsity player miss time for one reason or another. Billy Paluch and Jack Hamburg missed about a month because they had qualified for a USTA national tournament.. The Raiders #3 player, Gib Moyle, got injured his shoulder trying to run down a lob Jack and Billy's first match back. No one knew how long Gib would be out and how he play when he came back. The Raiders #4 player, Cody Malik, battled a shoulder injury all of 2006 and had fought his way through the 2007 season. Cody only missed one singles match during the year. JJ Shultz, the Raiders #5 player also had elbow and shoulder problems and missed a few matches during the season.
The week before state at the SF O'Gorman Invite the Raiders main goal was to get and keep everyone healthy. They accomplished this by doing something Coach Olson did not like to do: resting a few players. "I don't like to hold kids out, but I had to think about our kids first!" said Coach Olson. The Raiders headed to state and the seed came out in favor of the Raiders. Eight #1 seeds and one #3. Everything was looking good for the Raiders. They were finally had all their kids playing and fairly healthy. It was too good to be true. Jack Hamburg came down with the flu on Wednesday night while Coach Olson was at the seeding meeting. "I got to the hotel and Jack was gone. I was thinking what next? How can anything else happen?" questioned Coach Olson.
Thursday's matches went fine as Jack Hamburg fought his way through two fairly easy matches and the rest of his team got through their matches as well. The Raiders closest competition SF O'Gorman and Watertown also won all of their matches. The three were in a tie for first after day one with Aberdeen Roncalli and Brookings close behind.
Coach Olson should not have asked the what next question because on Friday two more players came down sick. Gib Moyle and JJ Shultz both were lucky that they had a few hours to rest between matches. Somehow, all three of the sick kids got through their Quarter-Finals matches without dropping a set. The rest of the team also won all of their matches and SF O'Gorman lost one. The Raiders were going to go into Saturday holding a slim lead over the Knights, Watertown, Aberdeen Roncalli, Brookings, and Madison.
The Raiders were feeling pretty good, but they knew their was still a ton of work to do. They had six semi-final singles matches and three of them were head to head matches against SF O'Gorman on Saturday morning that would be vital to the Raiders chances to repeat. Coach Olson decided it was time to relax. After a hearty dinner at Spezias, their regular Friday night dinner spot, they headed to a movie. Coach Olson picked a movie he knew would take their mind of tennis. Shooter did just that. The team was so into the movie that they forgot what was waiting from them on Saturday.
The Raiders started off a little sluggish on Saturday in a few of their singles semi-finals, but they were able to win five of the six and 2 of the three head to heads against O'Gorman. By doing this, the Raiders widened the gap between first and second. 2007 state was now a two team race, but not for long as the Raiders won all three doubles semi-finals and SFO dropped all three of their doubles semi-finals losing two of them to a fast charging Aberdeen Roncalli team. The Raiders basically had clinched the tournament, but they still had a few things on their mind like breaking their 2007 teams record breaking points total and winning one more title that last years' team.
The Raiders did just that and proved why so many picked them as overwhelming preseason favorites. The Raiders won all five singles finals (Billy Paluch 2 #1, Jack Hamburg @ #2, Gib Moyle @ #3, Cody Malik @ #4, JJ Shultz @ #5, Phil Henzlik was third @ #6) and all three doubles titles (Billy and Jack @ #1, Gib and JJ @ #2, and Cody and Phil @ #3) to put themselves in the history books. The Raiders accumulated 765 points and only lost match the entire tournament.. "To go 35-1 against the rest of the state is pretty remarkable!" exclaimed Coach Olson. "It's amazing!" added Billy Paluch, the first Raider to ever win the #1 singles title. "It's all about the team. Our kids are so close. We had 5 JV kids make the trip and a ton of past parents. It's fun to do this for everyone who had made our program what it is. We are very lucky to have great kids, great parents, and a great AD. It's about everyone!" added Coach Olson.
The 2008 Raider Boys tennis team is going to a mix of old and new when it comes to the varsity line-up. The Raiders return seniors Gib Moyle and Jj Shultz, junior Billy Paluch and freshmen Jack Hamburg who are four of the best players in the state, but they will also have three new spots to fill. "Who ends up playing five, six, and three doubles is going to be the key to our season!" expressed Raider Coach, Jason Olson. "We have about 8-10 kids who have an honest chance to win those spots. The ones who know how to compete will probably be the ones who end up there!"
A few kids who are vying for those spots might have the inside track because they got valuable experience last year playing for Billy Paluch, Jack Hamburg, and Gib Moyle who missed time due to injuries are being gone for the Easter Bowl, a national tournament. The Raiders top prospects are seniors- Jimmy Doyle and Michael McKinney, Juniors-Cody Eslinger, Shane Parker, and Tommy Barbour, Sophomore- Scott Ferrier, and freshmen- Stephen Tibbles, Alex Reynolds, and Kevin Mills. There are also a few middle school kids pushing to make the squad said Olson.