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Bemidji High School: Lumberjack tennis team honored

The Bemidji High School boys tennis team was honored Sunday night at its annual Awards Night ceremony at the Jeff Weaver home on Grace Lake Drive.

Special guests were the 14 lettermen from the Jacks varsity which compiled a 14-3 record this season, reaching the north sub-section semifinal before bowing. That tied the best mark in Coach Scott Engelstad's 16-year history as head coach set in 1998.

It lifted his record to 140-119.

The 14 wins were more than any Jacks team since 1977 when Bemidji ended 16-2, one year after setting the school mark of 21-1 under Ellis Halgrimson.

Engelstad served as emcee thanking JV Coach Jason Koester and Middle School mentor Pete Sullivan for their continued contributions to the program's success.

He also thanked the players and parents for their support.

Captain Sam Weaver rated the season as a "fun year" and praised his teammates for their hard work during the off season and for their attendance and encouragement for himself and Ben Holter at the state meet.

That pair were the first boys to gain the state since 2002.

Engelstad pointed to the fact that the boys ended a five-year losing streak with their stellar year.

The success was anticipated after the good showing last year with a predominately underclass lineup.

The only three losses came to the sub-section's first and second place teams and 8A champion Thief River Falls, a team it had defeated earlier.He was particularly strong in praise of his six graduation seniors who played highly competitive tennis all spring. The weather was also favorable with only two matches lost to the weather all season.

It was a team that grew with experience all year, especially the Weaver-Holter duo which was put together late in the year for tournament play after holding down the 1-2 singles berths all spring.

Holter, Weaver and Ryan Rude joined the list of Bemidji's 20 match winners with Holter ending 24-7 to take over fourth place, Weaver 22-10 to move into eighth and Rude 21-4 to take ninth.

With seven of the eight returnees having extensive varsity experience this year, Engelstad looked forward to a bright 2010 year. He urged the returnees, however, to seek new recruits and increase the numbers in the program.

He also stressed the necessity of continued play through the summer, especially in tournaments throughout the area, to gain added experience.

Registration blanks for the Lumberjack Open this August were distributed.

After introducing the letter winners, he named Justin Byers and Steve Bucher as Most Improved Players and the Weaver-Holter duo as Most Inspirational Players on this year's team.

The tennis team does not name an MVP,

Also cited was team manager Jamie Hoffman for her invaluable contributions to the program's success.

Holter was named to succeed Weaver as team captain next spring.

Earning their 2009 tennis letters were:

SENIORS: Sam Weaver, Steve Bucher, Aaron Johnson, Wes Rogers, Josh Pierce and Aaron Eickhorst

JUNIORS: Ben Holter, Ben Kloha, Justin Byers and Joey Wood

SOPHOMORES: Ryan Rude and Levi Rickert

FRESHMEN: Adam Holter and Kyle Fodness

Seventeen other players competed with the JV this spring, one of the largest squads in recent years.

The tennis fete was the fifth and final spring banquet.