Spartans tennis take home another win against the Mustangs

Rita Li, RubicOnline

On Apr. 18, as spring immersed itself into summer for a brief week with the 80° weather, the boys tennis team brought home a victory against Breck High School. The Spartans took a 6:1 win against the Mustangs at home.

At the boys state tennis tournament last June, the Spartans defeated the Mustangs, taking the state champion title. In April, the Spartans face off against the Mustangs again. “There’s always a little bit more adrenaline rush coming into this [match] and the excitement of playing the team that got to the state finals last year,” boys Tennis Varsity Head Coach Luke Elifson said.

“We knew that Breck wanted to get us back from state last year. [So] we wanted to stay energized, have a lot of competitive spirits, and be ready to just play our game and trust it,” captain Leo Benson said.

There’s always a little bit more adrenaline rush coming into this [match] and the excitement of playing the team that got to the state finals last year.

— Luke Elifson

The Spartans huddled in a circle as the coach gave a constructive mini ted-talk, prepping the team ready mentally before the match started. “Off the bottom, everyone came out with a purpose. I told them the same thing I did yesterday when they lost 1-to-6 [against Eden Prairie]. It’s more about the process of the match versus like the result,” Elifson said.

Benson and captain Maik Nguyen have been doubles partners for almost two years. As the ball just barely zoomed past Benson’s racket, dodging his volley, Nguyen quickly rushed to the right side of the court and finished with a forehand to cover for Benson.

“When you’re in a difficult stretch, you need someone to get you back up. During the whole warm-up, we were just helping each other out [as a team]. We were playing at high-intensity warm-ups just getting our bodies ready and our minds ready,” Benson said.

The coaches switched the line-up throughout the season so players could try playing with different people and roles, especially for doubles. Talking about teamwork, eighth grader Isaak Senaratna was paired up with a new doubles partner — seventh grade Winston Arvidson. “At the beginning, we’re still kind of working on our strategy. But by the end, we were in a rhythm, and it got better towards the end,” Senaratna said.

With every game, there’s growth and improvement. “I don’t know my most memorable shot, but I do know that this was one of the first matches in my career where I haven’t double-faulted before. So that was pretty awesome,” Benson said.

This week, the Spartans have five matches starting today. And the first home game will take time this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. against Red Riot — Orono high school.