FAIRMONT – Although the Fairmont boys’ tennis program lost the 2021 Section 1A bronze medal winning double to the exam, the 2022 version of the Cardinals is still quite young and mobile.
After venturing to the southeast corner of the state to compete in Section 1 for the past few years, the Minnesota State High School League Fairmont moved back to Section 2.
With the departure of longtime nights Ameya Komaragiri and Thomas Klanderud – who filled the respective regular season’s No. 1 and 2 places in the singles bracket, the junior trio Jack Hagen, Olivia Ortega and Noah Vetter will climb the Fairmont series. competition ladder in the spring.
Hagen developed into a hard-hitting No. 3 single player a year ago, and will take the transition to first place in solo trials.
“The most likely scenario is that Jack is likely to become our No. 1 (singles player) this year,” said veteran Fairmont head coach Eric Johnson, who guided the Cardinals to a record of 10-9 dual-meet in 2021. “We need him to have more authority to be able to compete at that level, and we (coaching staff) think he is capable of that.”
Ortega and Vetter – a left-handed player – also bring solid university experience back to the tennis facilities and are likely to compete in the singles division this season.
“Olivia looks stronger than a year ago and is definitely moving better in getting shot,” said Johnson, whose team opens the season by hosting Worthington on Tuesday at the Cardinal Courts. “Like Noah, she just needs more time on the field.
“Noah (Vetter) mainly played doubles with (graduated 2021) Parker (Vetter) last spring, but he will probably be able to help us in both singles and doubles this season.”
Sophomore’s Carter Quist and Sebastian Castro are also returning after combining shooting doubles in the second double in 2021.
Freshman Dominick Lund-May, the Cardinals’ second left-handed player, and second freshman Oliver Thedens add university experience to the roster after both played in the doubles division last spring.
“Dom has worked hard and has a solid foundation. Now he just needs to learn more about what to do in match-play situations, “ said Johnson. “Oliver is also solid fundamentally and will, like everyone else, have to increase his overall game.”
Freshman Simone Castro joins the Cardinals’ lineup after gaining valuable experience playing a number of university competitions in 2021.
“Simone has become stronger and hits the ball harder this season,” said Johnson. “She’s disciplined, now she has to hit her spots.
“Then we have to see what happens.”
Freshman Reed Wegner, eighth-graders Wiley Fredrickson, Zach Ashland and Levi Loughmiller, seventh-graders Anthony Stegge and tennis newcomer senior Sebastian Garza round out Fairmont’s list this campaign.
Laura Olsen, the Cardinals ‘girls’ tennis mentor this fall, will rejoin Johnson’s coaching staff this spring.
“With the switch to Section 2 for the playoffs, we will play against some new teams like Litchfield this year,” said Johnson.
Blue Earth Area, Holy Family Catholic, Rockford, St. James Area, St. Peter and Southwest Christian of Chaska will complete the section field on eight teams.
“I know it sounds so cliché, but we just have to work hard in practice, improve with every game and every game and have fun along the way,” said Johnson.