Arrow netters continue to learn on fly, bow out to Bulldogs and Cardinals

Pipestone Area junior Lucas Zupp. K. Kyle

The Arrows’ challenging boys’ tennis campaign didn’t take any abrupt turns during the week, but it did see Pipestone Area continue to make the most of its opportunities to improve – collectively and individually.

The Arrows suffered a pair of losses, in and out of conference play Thursday and Monday, respectively.

Thursday’s Big South Conference tilt against visiting Redwood Valley saw the Arrows take a 6-1 loss. Makhi Winter claimed the lone PAS point on the afternoon, as the sophomore second-year player edged Cole Johnson in three sets, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, at No. 2 singles.

Although he forced several deuce points, PAS junior Lucas Zupp couldn’t win at critical times in the match to get past RV’s top player Andrew Muetzel at No. 1 singles – bowing out in straight sets, 1-6, 1-6.

Cody Norberg, playing at No. 3 singles for the Arrows, also struggled at deuce in dropping a 2-6, 1-6, decision to Kanyon Hicks, while Chase Wilson notched just one game in each set of his No. 4 singles loss to Zach Lundeen.

“For other sports it’s easier to track how your players are progressing through the sport with stats, but in the world of tennis it’s not uncommon to have 10 deuce points in a row – which is hard to keep track of,” Pipestone Area head coach Colin Hoppe said. “You might have a 0-6 or a 1-6 scoreline, where you think, ‘Wow they really lost,’ but that doesn’t account for the really good tennis being played and all the tight deuce points that might have gone into that final score. One more point, one more rally and it’s a whole different score on the card.”

And, of course, giving up all the team points in doubles competition due to limited numbers doesn’t favor the final scoreline either.

As was the case Monday evening against South Dakota foe Madison. Wiping 2-of-3 of those matches out before commencing, the Arrows hoped they might be in contention for a team victory against the Bulldogs.

That wasn’t to be, however, as Wilson roared back from a set down to claim the lone team marker – besting Madison’s Chase Steuerwald 3-6, 6-3, 10-4, in a tiebreaker at No. 4 singles.

Winter dropped a tight 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 1-10 match to Spencer Reverts at No. 2 singles, while Zupp and Norberg came up short against Mason Kennington and Elijah Sims at 0-6, 0-6 and 3-6, 2-6, respectively.

Pipestone Area junior Cody Norberg. K. Kyle

Again several deuce points were played across the board, leaving the Arrows just shy of turning the tables.

“It’s about the same thing we’ve been saying throughout the year, and even last year… ‘play with confidence and get more situational repetitions in,’” Hoppe said. “We know if it’s an ad-out situation we can pull one back and if we’re in deuce we have to be confident enough to pull off two – back-to-back points.”

That said, Hoppe is pleased with his player’s progress in a season where little victories might be all his players can hope for.

“They’ve all progressed very well,” he said. “At the beginning of the season I told them it would be a challenge, but one that I believed they could compete very well in. All of our guys have stepped up, varsity and JV; I’ve seen a lot of improvement and we’re seeing that as we try to take it one point, one game and one match at a time.”

The Arrows will be back in action Thursday evening when they travel to St. James to square off against the Saints in Big South Conference play.