The Norfolk High tennis squad finished another successful dual season Monday with an 8-1 win over Grand Island.
With the win, the Panthers improved to 5-1 in dual competition, allowing five seniors to play their last home matches and, according to coach Kelly Krueger, “enjoy the sweet taste of victory.”
“For our last match of the season, it’s always nice to go out on top. Grand Island was happy to reschedule this dual, and we received beautiful weather to make up for last week’s poor playing conditions,” Krueger said. “This was a case of we were simply the better team. Grand Island gave their all, played to their capability, but we were better prepared, better technically and better mentally.”
As Krueger watched his players compete, he was both appreciative of the efforts of his seniors and noting the improvement of his younger players.
The Panthers’ Jared Ertzner Kitto dropped a close 8-6 match in No. 1 singles, but Mason Borgman and Colby Mrsny earned 8-1 wins in No. 2 and No. 3 singles, respectively. All three are seniors.
“With three of the seniors on varsity, I will have to find some replacements for next year,” he said. “However, I have some capable underclassmen with the right motivation and work ethic, so that task may take care of itself.”
Evidence was in the other three singles spots — all manned by underclassmen, including sophomores Jack Schwanebeck (No. 4) and Kalen Krohn (No. 5), as well as junior Josh Sumner (No. 6). All three players recorded 8-0 wins over their Islander opponents.
Krueger cited Krohn as an example of motivation and work ethic who, along with Schwanebeck, can’t seem to get enough of tennis.
Both can be found at the Norfolk courts after the Panthers’ practice session has been completed, he said, or playing in the evening following an all-day out-of-town competition — and the improvement has been noticeable.
“Jack and I just love to play tennis. We’re really competitive with each other, and we make each other better every time we play,” Krohn said. “We both planned to play high school tennis starting in the eighth grade, so we practiced a lot.”
The improvement and extra time on the courts has Krueger expecting big contributions from his sophomores to the Norfolk High tennis program in the future.
“Kalen’s skills continue to improve, and his work ethic is excellent,” Krueger said. “With a full offseason next summer to prepare, I’m expecting much bigger things from him.”
Krohn’s day against Grand Island began with an 8-1 win with partner Ertzner Kitto over the Islanders’ Grant Kohles and Adrian Melgoza in No. 3 doubles before shutting out Kohles in singles action.
“Jared and I get along well in our doubles matches,” he said. “Our serves went really well today; we got them with a lot of aces, so that was good.”
Krohn, who typically plays No. 2 singles for the Panthers in tournaments, has accumulated a respectable 16-14 record against Class A competition.
“I started the season a little slow, but I got a lot better and improved as the season went along,” he said. “I’m definitely a singles player — I like that.”
The seedings for the state meet were recently published by the Nebraska School Activities Association, and Krohn, who is unseeded, is aware that through a “random draw,” his first-round opponent will be the No. 7 seed — a player from Lincoln North Star — whom he expects to be “really good.”
“A 16-14 record against Class A No. 2 singles competition, and competing in the (Heartland Athletic) conference, that’s a pretty good record,” Krueger said. “I’ve had two coaches from Lincoln Southeast and Southwest, when Kalen played their kids, say, ‘I was really impressed with your No. 2 singles player — he’s a tough out.’ He’s definitely improved during the year.”
Norfolk 8, Grand Island 1
Singles — No. 1: Josh Grosvenor (GI) def. Jared Ertzner Kitto (N) 8-6; No. 2: Mason Borgman (N) def. Jake Inthavongsa (GI) 8-1; No. 3: Colby Mrsny (N) def. Wyatt Kohles (GI) 8-1; No. 4: Jack Schwanebeck (N) def. Mat Ford (GI) 8-0; No. 5: Kalen Krohn (N) def. Grant Kohles (GI) 8-0; No. 6: Josh Sumner (N) def. Adrian Melgoza (GI) 8-0.
Doubles — No. 1: Mrsny/Borgman (N) def. Ford/Kohles (GI) 8-0; No. 2: Schwanebeck/Sumner (N) def. Grosvenor/Inthavongsa (GI) 8-1; No. 3: Krohn/Ertzner Kitto (N) def. Kohles/Melgoza (GI) 8-1.