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MEDFORD BOYS TENNIS - Lakeland gets big early GNC win; Raiders drop first four duals

Lakeland gets big early GNC win;  Raiders drop first four duals
Medford’s Conner Klingbeil steps into a hard forehand swing early in his numbertwo singles match with Lakeland’s Jack Stepec Tuesday at the MASH courts. Klingbeil won a tough match 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 to go to 4-0 on the young season. MATT FREY/THE STAR NEWS
Lakeland gets big early GNC win;  Raiders drop first four duals
Medford’s Conner Klingbeil steps into a hard forehand swing early in his numbertwo singles match with Lakeland’s Jack Stepec Tuesday at the MASH courts. Klingbeil won a tough match 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 to go to 4-0 on the young season. MATT FREY/THE STAR NEWS


Medford boys tennis head coach Kyle Ranum expected the Lakeland Thunderbirds to make an upward move in the Great Northern Conference standings this spring, and the T-Birds unfortunately, proved him right Tuesday, earning what could turn out to be a pivotal 5-2 win over the host Raiders in the league opener.

For the fourth straight meet to start the year, Medford earned a split of the singles matches, but, as the Raiders continue to test potential doubles pairings, they were swept in that department and fell to 0-4 overall.

Medford claimed second place in the GNC last spring by a 22-point margin over the Thunderbirds.

This year, the conference has switched to just a single round-robin format with Ashland joining the league, adding importance to each dual meet.

Conner Klingbeil improved to 4-0 for Medford at number-two singles, prevailing in his toughest match of the young season. He split 6-3 scores in the first two sets with Lakeland’s Jack Stepec, winning the first one. After the set-two loss, Klingbeil regained control in the third set and clinched the match with a 6-2 win.

Jude Stark was Medford’s other winner, taking the number-four singles match 6-3, 7-5 over August Callender.

Lakeland earned a big win in the flightone singles match as Dominic Gironella got off to a good start and never let the momentum go in a 6-3, 6-1 win over Medford’s Brayden Balciar. Balciar won two close matches with Gironella last year.

Mika Rempp defeated Medford’s Cale Schulz 6-2, 6-2 in flight three.

Caleb Egle and Keagan Gehrke got off to a good start in the flight-two doubles match, beating Lakeland’s Angus Callender and Carson Tegland 6-4. But Lakeland’s duo turned things around after that with 6-1, 6-1 wins.

Medford’s top doubles team of Mason Reimann and Parker Hill gave Lakeland’s Yaroslav Myshchychyn and Gage Bowe a run in the first set before falling 7-5. It was all Lakeland in the second set 6-0. At number-three, Lakeland’s Tyler Wallace and Sawyer Brown downed Medford’s Cole Zenner and Christian Preuss 6-1, 6-2.

Medford is off until Saturday when it travels to the Amery Quad, which also features Ashland and Osceola. The Raiders resume conference play Tuesday with a 5 p.m. dual meet at Stevens Point Pacelli

0-2 at Baldwin

The Baldwin-Woodville Quad gave the Raiders a chance to try some things with their lineup and get a look at some potential sectional competition down the road. Medford lost both of its dual meets by scores of 5-2 to Osceola and the host Blackhawks. Against Osceola, Medford’s wins came at number-two and number-three singles. Klingbeil won the flight-two match 6-3, 6-3 over Mason Jordan and Schulz took a good flight-three match over Aidan Gallagher. Schulz won the first set 6-3, while the second set went to a tiebreaker, which Schulz won 7-1 to take the set 7-6 and seal the match.

The Chieftains won the rest of the matches in straight sets. Gavin Almlie, a 2023 state qualifier, beat Balciar 6-4, 6-1 in the top singles match and Wyatt Larson beat Ethan Kollmansberger 6-4, 6-3 at number-four.

Osceola’s top doubles team of August Dressel and Owen Jordan beat Reimann and Hill 6-3, 6-1. Stark and Egle, both seniors, played their first doubles match together and were defeated in flight two by Andre Valbuena and Bradley Ramsey 6-0, 6-4. Likewise, Gehrke and Preuss worked together for the first time at flight three. They fell 6-1, 6-4 to Atley Thomas and Chase Klein.

Balciar and Klingbeil were Medford’s winners against Baldwin-Woodville. Balciar got his first win of 2024 by dominating Aidan Freer 6-0, 6-1 and Klingbeil nearly shut out Siraj Whirry in a 6-0, 6-2 win. At number-three, Schulz pushed Benson Campbell to a 10-point match tiebreaker but Campbell prevailed 4-6, 6-4, 10-5. Rhett Carlson survived a first-set tiebreaker with Stark and went on to win the match 7-6 (5), 6-1.

Gus Kroening and William Eggink beat Reimann and Hill 6-3, 6-2; Connor Barnett and Jerome Dietzman were 6-2, 6-2 winners over Gehrke and Egle at numbertwo doubles and Brody Paul and Jackson Rudd downed Zenner and Blaine Searles at number-three 6-0, 6-3.

Baldwin-Woodville beat Lakeland 5-2 and Osceola 4-3 to go 3-0 for the day. Osceola was a 4-3 winner over Lakeland and finished 2-1.

Tigers 5, Raiders 2

Although the temperatures were not tennis-like in the upper 30s on Thursday, with a stiff north breeze added on, the Raiders and Marshfield Tigers took advantage of dry courts at MASH to start their seasons with a non-conference dual meet, which the Tigers won 5-2.

Tiebreakers were the story as Marshfield won a 10-point match tiebreaker and won two second-set tiebreakers that prevented those matches from going to the 10-point tiebreaker.

“For being actually on the courts for about a day and half, I’m very happy with how we played,” Medford head coach Kyle Ranum said after the meet.

Both of Medford’s wins came on the singles side of things. In flight two, Klingbeil was in control virtually throughout and defeated Will Jepsen in straight sets 6-3, 6-0. In his varsity debut, Searles had no trouble in flight four, shutting out Gavin Hawks 6-0, 6-0.

The number-one match featured some excellent first-meet, cold-weather action from Balciar and Marshfield’s Kai Rens. Rens got the first set 6-1, but Balciar got settled in during the second set and the two traded big shots in several long rallies, taking the set to a 6-6 tie.

Balciar had an early 2-1 lead in the tiebreaker and had it tied up at 4-4, but Balciar was just long on a deep shot, Rens hit a big winner and then Balciar’s final shot went wide as Rens took the tiebreaker 7-4, the set 7-6 and the match.

Stark played well in flight three, but Marshfield’s Antonio Koehn was just a bit better, winning 6-3, 6-2.

Reimann and Hill were one point away from winning the number-one doubles match but couldn’t quite finish the job.

They took the first set 6-3, but Marshfield’s Ryan Grassman and Kevin Buth evened things with a 6-3 win in the second set. In the 10-point match tiebreaker, things went back and forth until Reimann perfectly hit the back line on a return and Hill’s crossing shot stayed in to give the Raiders a 9-7 lead. But Grassman and Buth won three straight points to go up 10-9. Reimann’s perfectly-placed soft return tied it, but Grassman’s quick reaction to a Reimann shot at the net tied it and Buth’s winner clinched a 12-10 win for the Tigers.

In flight two, Marshfield’s Aran Tripathi and Rahul Dissanayake took the first set over Schulz and Egle 6-3, but the Raiders played a better second set and forged a 6-6 tie. The set tiebreaker went back and forth before the Tigers nudged ahead 9-7 at the end to take the set 7-6 and the match.

In flight three, Beckett Hall and Justin Franks swept Medford’s Reuben Barnhart and Kollmansberger, both making their varsity debuts, 6-0, 6-1.

In an exhibition singles match, Zenner was a 6-0, 4-0 winner.