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Boys tennis: Detroit Lakes starts to hit its stride in convincing win over Perham

After a slow start to the 2022 season, the Detroit Lakes boys tennis team is beginning to find its footing. The Lakers beat Perham 5-2 and are looking forward to a promising run in the Section 8-2A tournament in a few weeks.

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Detroit Lakes' Jordan Fields returns a shot in a 6-4, 6-2 loss at No. 3 singles against Jack Birkeland on May 5, 2022 at Perham.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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PERHAM – The Detroit Lakes boys tennis team cruised through Perham and picked up its second win of the season. This came as no surprise to head coach Zach Biggar, who leads an experienced group on the court with high expectations for themselves.

The Lakers beat Perham 5-2, surrendering only Nos. 1 and 3 singles matchups. After dropping the first two of the season, Detroit Lakes is on a roll and looking to get back into shape after a delayed start.

"Match readiness is a big thing," Biggar said. "I think you could tell on Tuesday and last Thursday that the other teams we played against had played a lot of matches (this season), and we hadn't. I think that's going to make us better throughout the year when we get our legs under us. A lot of the guys on Tuesday were saying how tired they were. The more chances we get to practice and the more matches we have, that stuff will kind of clear itself."

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Detroit Lakes' Nate Cihak powers a forehand shot in a 6-0, 6-0 singles loss on May 5, 2022 against Josh Peterson at Perham.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

The Lakers went to Sartell for a triangular against the Sabres and Willmar. After a tough 4-3 loss in the first match, Detroit Lakes has won 12 of its last 14 head-to-heads with a sweep of the Cardinals and a convincing Performance in Perham.

Reed Henderson beat Michael Schwantz 6-4, 6-2 at No. 2 singles. Cole Deraney took care of business at No. 4 singles with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Brekken Wokasch.

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Perham's Josh Peterson swept Nate Cihak 6-0, 6-0 before Jack Birkeland pulled out a 6-4, 6-2 win over Jordan fields for the Yellowjackets' lone wins.

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Perham's Jack Birkeland hits a forehand shot in a 6-4, 6-2 singles win over Jordan Fields on May 5, 2022 at Perham High School. The Yellowjackets lost to the Lakers 5-2.
Jared Rubado / Perham Focus

"Jordan and Reed had two tough matches on Tuesday (against Sartell) as well," Biggar said. "That was something we took as a learning experience. Whether they should have or shouldn't have won, it doesn't matter. I think both of them understand that every match is going to be a battle. Reed has been playing since eighth grade, and Jordan has played three or four years on varsity. It's tough that Jordan ended up losing against a tough player today. Hopefully, he uses it as a positive instead of a negative."

Detroit Lakes swept all three doubles matches. The No. 1 team of Connor Zamzo and Gavin Smith beat Hudson Hackel and Avery Halvorson 6-1, 6-1. Gabriel Reller and Breck Winter beat Soren Anderson and Mason Happel 6-0, 6-4, while Elijah Blow and Cooper Moore took down Michael Anderson and Reece Willprech 6-0, 6-3 at No. 3 doubles.

"We like to coach strong doubles teams because it makes it easier on the singles guys," Biggar said. "When you can sweep doubles, you only need one singles match to win. Luckily, we believe we have four good singles players as well. We have the most complete team we've had in many years."

One thing Detroit Lakes has that many others lack is experience. Its senior-heavy lineup has veterans in six of the seven spots on the court, which makes up for some of the hinderings the weather provided this spring.

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Detroit Lakes' Gavin Smith, right, serves in a No. 1 doubles win on May, 5, 2022, at Perha. The Lakers beat the Yellowjackets 5-2 and swept all three doubles matches.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"If you look at the record we have as a varsity squad individually, we have probably three, four, five times the amount of experience over the other teams we play," Biggar said. "I think it shows when they get in tight matches. They've been there before. They know how to pull through a match compared to a first or second-year player."

While seniority is a strength, it can also be a setback. Biggar hopes it doesn't create a sense of comfortability.

"We've had this group for a while now, and they've been playing together for a lot of years," Biggar said. "It can be a blessing and a curse. I think they have too much brotherly love sometimes. It's a growing process. They're high school boys, at the end of the day. I think we're just getting started in terms of how much this team can do this season."

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Perham's Hudson Hackel, right, and Avery Halvorson talk strategy during in between sets on May, 5, 2022 in a No. 1 singles loss against Connor Zamzo and Gavin Smith.
Jared Rubado / Perham Focus

The Lakers have set high expectations for themselves. They want to make a run at the Section 8-2A crown. However, the defending champs are in the way.

"Bemidji is the clear favorite," Biggar said. "They did lose a few guys, and we only lost one. We played them tough last year. I know Nate is going to have a tough match at (No. 1 singles). It's going to be tough matches all around. If we can get our legs under us and get ready to go, I think it's going to be a battle."

"Going into the season, I sent a message to the guys," Biggar said. "Knowing where we're at and where the section is at, we have a really good chance to go deep in the section (playoffs). Our seeding took a little bit of a hit on Tuesday in losing to Sartell. I told them I don't care what our seed is. We're going to have to play the best teams eventually. We have a team that can beat anybody in the section."

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Detroit Lakes' Elijah Blow lofts the ball over the net in a No. 3 doubles win on May, 5, 2022 in the Lakers' 5-2 win at Perham.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

DETROIT LAKES 5, PERHAM 2

SINGLES- No. 1- Josh Peterson (P) def. Nate Cihak 6-0, 6-0, No. 2- Reed Henderson (D) def. Michael Schwantz 6-4, 6-2; No. 3- Jack Birkeland (P) def. Jordan Fields 6-4, 6-2; No. 4- Cole Deraney (D) def. Brekken Wokasch 6-3, 6-1

DOUBLES- No. 1- Connor Zamzo-Gavin Smith (D) def. Hudson Hackel-Avery Halvorson 6-1, 6-1; No. 2- Gabriel Reller-Breck Winter (D) def. Soren Anderson-Mason Happel 6-0, 6-4; No. 3- Elijah Blow-Cooper Moore (D) def. Michael Anderson-Reece Willprecht 6-0, 6-3

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Perham's Michael Schwantz hits and underhand shot in a 6-4, 6-2 loss against Reed Henderson on May 5, 2022 at Perham High School.
Jared Rubado / Perham Focus

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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