Storm Tennis

Seniors Mick Fitzgibbons and Josh Katof (right) will be ones to watch for Chanhassen on the court this spring.

The Chanhassen boys tennis team returns a solid nucleus that won double-digit matches last season.

Nine varsity letter winners are back for the Storm and there’s hope the team can be a factor in the Metro West Conference, as well as in Section 2AA.

“Finishing in the top three in our conference along with a top three section seed are the main goals,” said Chanhassen coach James Mason, whose team had a 10-4 record last season.

Chanhassen opened the season with a pair of league wins — 7-0 versus Waconia April 19 and a 4-3 at Bloomington Jefferson April 21.

The Storm has also had four matches postponed due to the cold April weather, including at home versus Eden Prairie April 25.

Eden Prairie and Minnetonka look to be favorites in Section 2AA this season, along with Prior Lake. Orono won the section title last year, but the Spartans got shipped into Section 5AA during section realignment.

The rest of the Section 2AA field includes Hutchinson, Chaska, Shakopee, Mankato East, Mankato West, Mound Westonka, New Prague, New Ulm, Waconia and Worthington.

Junior Konner Gunwall looks to lead the Storm’s singles lineup this season.

“He is one of the better players in the section, and I anticipate a big year from him,” Mason said.

Seniors Liam Van Asten and eighth-grader Theo Piryu are also expected to make an impact in singles for the Storm.

In doubles, Chanhassen has all six of its players back from last year with seniors Mick Fitzgibbons and Josh Katof looking to be in the No. 1 spot. Sophomores Alex Jensen, Drew Jensen, Billy McNeely and junior Jordan Tollefson fill out the doubles lineup.

“Experience is our main strength along with team chemistry,” Mason said. “As soon as we figure out our No. 4 singles spot, along with our No. 2 and No. 3 doubles combinations, we will have our lineup set.

“The season is setting up for not much practice time and a lot of matches towards the end of the season,” Mason added. “Given our experience, that should not play a factor in how we compete at the end of the year.”

Orono, ranked No. 3 in Class AA behind Lake Conference powers Edina and Wayzata, respectively, is the favorite in the Metro West Conference. Benilde-St. Margaret’s is also a strong contender.

The Storm will take on Orono on the road May 9. Chanhassen ends the regular season at Southwest Christian May 13.

Section 2AA team play starts May 17 with the first round. The semifinals and title matches are set for May 24 as Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.

The section singles and doubles tournaments start May 27 with the semifinals and title matches for both May 31 at Gustavus.

This year’s Class AA state tournament is set for June 7-10 at the Baseline Tennis Center in Minneapolis. The team tournament is the first two days, followed by the singles and doubles tourneys the next two days.

Tom Schardin covers sports for Savage and Prior Lake. He is dependable, sarcastic and always joking around. Tom enjoys running and swimming and is often busy coaching his two kids' sports teams.

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