An opening ace

For a team in a so-called “rebuilding year,” the Minot High School boys tennis team left second-year Dickinson coach Jon Tangen impressed.

“I hear they lost quite a few seniors, but they sure still hit the ball hard,” Tangen said. “They got a lot of really good players.”

The Magicians put on a show Friday at Magic City Campus with a 9-0, season-opening sweep of Dickinson.

The Midgets have just five players, meaning Minot collected default wins at No. 6 singles and No. 3 doubles.

“It’s just nice to get out and play a match,” MHS coach Scott DeLorme said. “Kids get sick of practice after two weeks of it. When we get out here, the coaches can watch from a distance and see what we need to work on.”

DeLorme pointed to footwork and doubles movement as areas in need of improvement. But with six of his top eight players from last season’s West Region championship team lost to graduation, the sixth-year coach said he’ll take a win any time he can get one. DeLorme was satisfied with the Magicians’ demeanor, especially early in matches.

“I thought that we started strong,” he said. “Sometimes when we know a team is short players or maybe on a down year we can get a slow start and just kind of go through the motions, but I don’t think any of our guys did that. I thought we came out strong in the first three or four games and just kind of cruised from there.”

Junior Dustin Foster breezed past Alex Priebe 6-0, 6-1 for his first career victory at No. 1 singles and combined with Grayson Bahl for a straight-set win over Priebe and Jonathan Griffith. Senior Isaac Massey made quick work of Griffith in a 6-0, 6-0 rout at No. 2 singles. Massey partnered with junior Drew Thomas to prevail 6-1, 6-1 at No. 2 doubles against Tyus Praus and Travis Kellen.

The hard-serving Massey recorded 15 aces in his two matches. He said first-serve percentage was a major focus during the offseason.

“My serves were on today,” Massey said. “I was glad because it’s so windy up here (17-mph winds), sometimes the ball can just move away from you.”

Drew Thomas, Bahl and David Hurteau also closed out straight-set wins at Nos. 3, 4 and 5 singles, respectively.

Though it was not a hotly contested match, beginning a “down season” with a win is crucial for a team’s psyche, Massey said.

“It is kind of a rebuilding year for us so it’s always huge to come out the first match of the season and get a win,” he said. “Sometimes you come out first match and you lose, it’s hard to rebound.”

The Magicians host the Minot Round Robin at 9 a.m. today. Singles will compete at Magic City Campus and doubles at Cameron Indoor Tennis Center.

Ryan Holmgren covers high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgrenMDN.