The Alexandria boys tennis team had plenty to recognize after a 20-3 season, and two senior captains who played a big role in that success shared MVP honors for the Cardinals.
That was part of a host of awards for Gannon Lueck (24-6) and Jacob Partington (20-9). Lueck had the team’s most wins with 24 while playing both singles and doubles, and Partington also earned Alexandria’s Most Intense Player Award and the Hardest Worker Award after anchoring the team’s No. 1 singles spot most of the year.
Partington and Lueck teamed up in the section tournament to win that field and advance to the state doubles tournament.
“Our slogan for the season was ‘All about Hard Work,’ head coach Dave Ronning said. “We had great leadership this season, with 12 seniors and Jacob and Gannon as captains. The boys came to practice ready to work every day. Jacob and Gannon brought a lot of energy and it was very contagious. The junior varsity and younger players bought into the concept, so we had great practice sessions, and when you practice well, you usually play well in matches.”
Tyler Jabas added the Alexandria varsity’s final team award after being named the most improved player. Jabas posted a 15-4 overall record.
Both Partington and Lueck were All-Central Lakes Conference players, along with teammate Pieter Mulder (20-5). Aaron Jost (14-6) and Landon Schabel (15-6) were honorable-mention All-CLC selections. They were all part of a team that won the Central Lakes Conference championship for the first time in 14 years after going 11-1 in league play.
“We talked about what the players’ expectations are during the season. Are they looking for fun or rewarding experiences?” Ronning said. “We talked about the tough losses we had to (St. Cloud) Tech in the regular season and the season-ending loss in the section finals to Bemidji, a team we beat twice in season.
“We couldn't find any fun to be had in those losses, but now that the season is in the books all the players agree that it was a very rewarding season and what they experienced and learned would stick with them in a positive sense for the rest of their lives.”
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Mulder and Brennen Lattimer (7-1) have been named the 2022 captains for Alexandria. They will be asked to lead a more inexperienced group after the Cardinals graduated Jost, Andrew Wegner (14-9), Brennan Parker (9-3), Colton Schabel (2-0), Dylan Nelson (11-10), Lueck, Garrett Moore (2-0), Partington, Jacob Tiegen (2-0), Landon Schabel, Logan Hegg and Jabas.
“This group of seniors will be sorely missed and big shoes will have to be filled next season, especially in the singles lineup where all four will graduate,” Ronning said. “The coaches are very proud of this group and what they achieved after a year of absence with Covid. Winning a conference title and making back-to-back section finals after losing a large group to graduation two seasons ago says a lot about their work ethic.”
Ronning is excited about the culture they helped mold for the group of guys coming back.
“The future is bright for this program as the numbers are really good and we have some very focused, committed, and dedicated underclassmen ready to take varsity spots,” he said. “We wish our seniors all the best as they head down the road, and we know the hard work they put into their futures will bring them great rewards.”