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BHS spring previews: Boys tennis: Extended winter forces tennis team to adapt

First row, from left: Spencer Konecne, Nick Schultz, Brad Kovacovich. Second row, from left: Linus John, Garret Atteberry, Rocky Copiskey, Evan White. Third row, from left: Coach Ken Pankow, Noah Holter, Kyle Labernick, Matt Hokanson, Kole Pankow, Robert Treuer, Gabe Heifort, Kevin Sorenson, Sam Howard, coach Mark Fodness. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI — The tennis courts at the high school complex are across the parking lot from the school and every day the Bemidji boys tennis players drive past them as they head to their morning classes.

In a perfect scenario, the Lumberjacks would cross that parking lot about 3:30 p.m. each day, open the gate and prepare for the day’s practice session.

So far this spring, however, the courts have been off limits as snow covered the grounds and temperatures below freezing made practicing outdoors impossible.

The inaccessibility of the outdoor courts has forced the Jacks indoors and, fortunately, BHS has been able to book some early-morning workouts at the BSU Gillett Recreation Center facility.

“We generally can have some court time from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. at the Rec Center,” said Bemidji coach Mark Fodness. “Once again, the weather is going to be a major factor this spring.

“We haven’t been able to practrice outdoors this spring but we are very fortunate to have some indoor time at BSU.”

The Lumberjacks can use all the practice time they can find as battles are taking shape for just about all of the positions. And that is just fine with the coach.

“It could really be an interesting season,” Fodness said. “It will take a while for our final lineup to take shape.

“We have many older players but we also have graduated many players in the last couple of years. Some of our older players are inexperienced and it will really be fun to see them get a chance to compete and show what they can do in match play.”

Headlining this year’s squad are the captains — seniors Kole Pankow and Sam Howard plus junior Matt Hokanson.

“This year’s team has great leadership, especially from our captains,” Fodness said. “Kole, Sam and Matt are the kind of role models you want for your younger players.”

The early-season roster also includes seniors Robert Treuer, Kevin Sorenson and Evan White.

Joining Hokanson in the junior class are Kyle Labernik, Brad Kovacovich, Jacob Pearlson, Gabe Heifort, Tyler Roed, Sam Sharpe, Chris Allen, Mitchell Sandberg and Garret Atteberry.

The sophomores include Matthew Hanchon, Nick Schultz, Caleb Hess, Noah Holter, Rocky Copiskey and Mitch Webb while Grant Olson, James Will and Aaron Bennett are the freshmen. Also vying for playing time is seventh grader Spencer Konecne.

“We could use some more freshmen and sophomores on the roster so I’m hoping we still have a few players join this spring,” Fodness said.

Returning from last spring’s section roster are Hokanson and Holter who played singles.

Also back are doubles players Treuer, Howard, Pankow, Atteberry and White.

“We have many players back. I would think some of the top spots in our lineup could be settled pretty quickly and I think we’ll be very competitive at those spots ,” Fodness said. “But I think there’s going to be many players competing for the remaining spots in the lineup and, hopefully, that will make us even stronger in those key positions.”

BHS finished with an 11-4 record last spring and dropped its opening match in the section tournament to Moorhead. Fodness expects another successful campaign and is eager to see how things develop.

“We’re in a very tough section but it is our goal to have a successful regular season, earn a favorable section seed and then see what happens,” the coach said.

The schedule

Boys Tennis

Coach: Mark Fodness

4/3 Perham cancelled

4/8 Bemidji 5, Crookston 2

4/10 Grand Rapids 2 p.m.

4/10 Park Rapids 5 p.m.

4/15 at Brainerd 4 p.m.

4/17 at East Grand Forks 3:45 p.m.

4/22 at Detroit Lakes 4:30 p.m.

4/24 at Thief River Falls 4:30 p.m.

5/1 at Northwest Quad 10 a.m.

5/2 at Brainerd 4 p.m.

5/6 Detroit Lakes noon

5/6 East Grand Forks 1:30 p.m.

5/9 at Moorhead 3 p.m.

5/9 Fergus Falls at Moorhead TBD

5/12 Crookston 4 p.m.

5/13 Thief River Falls 2 p.m.

5/13 Moorhead 5 p.m.

5/15 at Grand Rapids 4:30 p.m.

5/16 at Park Rapids 4 p.m.

5/20 8-2A team at Brainerd 9 a.m.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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