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Young Farmington boys' tennis team looks to develop

Senior Tyler Samion has played the No. 1 and 2 singles spot for the Tigers this season. Here he plays against Eastview on Friday, May 10. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
Freshman Erik Hall lunges for a ball against Eastview on May 10 in the Tigers' regular season finale. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

Early season struggles

The Farmington Tigers boys' tennis team has taken its lumps this year as almost half of the team is made up of freshman and there are just three seniors out—Spencer Mayleben, Tyler Samion and Grant Gruver. Head coach Blake Olmsheid said that this season's approach has had to be somewhat different than in years past.

"We do the same thing every year, it's always kind of trying to jam in all the learning we can into the first two weeks and I don't think that this year was any different for the first two weeks," he said. "The difference was after that, trying to utilize all the practices that we had from that point on to kind of continue that lesson through. Whereas in years past we've used those practices to really to try and get some reps, competition reps in without any consequences. So it's just a different challenge. I think the guys have gotten a lot better over the course of the season too, which is good, a lot of them are young."

Olmsheid said that they usually set individual goals for the season, but with so many new faces and unknowns on the team this year, those goals have become moving targets.

"We always do individual goals and this year it was a little bit more difficult because we had such a big incoming (freshman class). I mean compared to years past, it was kind of hard to set goals for the team because realistically I didn't know what we had," he said. "With the way practice is the first week, you basically get half the team in because that's spring break, and after that you're trying to piece together what you have for a lineup that is going to have to be used in five days from the day that you see everybody for the first time. I would say we adjusted expectations as the year went on. For us, our biggest team goal I think was just individual improvement for everyone."

Development

One of those freshmen has stood out with his play this year, along with Mayleben who is in his last year on the team.

"We have seven freshmen, so most of those guys have been exhibition this season but Kaden Schneider is one of the kids, he started out playing three doubles for this year," Olmsheid said. "We've had a lot of different lineups but he has gradually moved up the lineup in doubles and he's now playing pretty much exclusively one or two doubles, but his improvement has been big I would say."

"Spencer Mayleben has had a good end to his season here, he had a win streak going at two singles and he just moved up to one today and got an immediate dose of reality because Gavin Young, who plays one singles for Eastview, he's the second ranked player in the state," he continued. "But he won't have to face anybody like that the rest of the year. So we'll see what happens in sections with him."

The Tigers played three matches this past week against Northfield, Apple Valley and powerhouse Eastview. They fell to Northfield 6-1 on Monday, May 6, and then by the same score to Apple Valley on Tuesday, May 7. On Friday, they were at Eastview and lost 7-0.

Mayleben won his No. 2 singles match against Northfield 6-0. 6-4 and against Apple Valley he won 6-1, 6-2. He then lost at No. 1 singles against Eastview 6-0, 6-0.

Upcoming sections

Olmsheid said that with team sections starting this week and individuals coming up, that he hopes his players can start to put what they've learned this spring into practice.

"There's a lot of learning that goes on over the course of the year and by the time we get to sections, you would hope that they now they are starting to implement some of that. It is tough because a lot of times, on the court when points count, you can't tinker with a lot of things," he said. "Besides that, every year it seems like there's always a couple kids who really take the concept of sections meaning something more than the regular season to heart and they do step up a little bit. When that happens, they get to see an elevated level of play from their opponents and every now and then the whole team gets to see that if a kid makes it two or three rounds, they'll get to see a new level that they're not accustomed to and it energizes the whole team."

Farmington traveled to Rochester John Marshall for the first round of Section 1AA team action on Tuesday, May 14, but not further schedule or bracket information was available.

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a RiverTown Multimedia sports reporter covering Hastings, Farmington and Rosemount athletics. He graduated from Drake University with a journalism degree in 2014. 

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