Men’s tennis opens fall, women prepare for Gopher Invite

LOGAN MEYER Sports Reporter

Both the men’s and women’s Jackrabbit tennis teams have begun their fall seasons, and they have done so in an impressive fashion. 

Women’s Jackrabbit tennis

After what has been about a month of exhibition play, the South Dakota State women’s tennis team will begin its official season at the Gopher Invitational at the University of Minnesota by playing both doubles and singles matches.

When the Jacks traveled to Minneapolis last season they performed quite well, posting noteworthy third, a pair of fifths and sixth-place finishes.

Jackrabbit Head Coach Michael Engdahl is heading into the weekend with a high level of optimism.

“I know everyone is looking forward to the tournament this weekend,” he said. “We have been putting in the work on the practice courts and it will feel good to finally play some official matches.”

Engdahl said he sees promise from what he has observed so far in the season.

“We are hitting the ball extremely well in practice and it will be fun to see how that translates into some tough competition this weekend,” said Engdahl. 

Although the tournament poses challenging opponents with two Big Ten teams in Minnesota and Wisconsin out of the 12-team field, Engdahl is excited to see how the Jacks perform.

“The Minnesota tournament always brings some high-level teams and I know our women are ready to go toe-totoe with whoever they step out on court with,” he said.

There will be singles taking place Friday and Saturday, followed by the final round on Sunday. Doubles will also be taking place each day of the tournament, with most of the doubles action happening prior to the start of any singles matches. 

Play begins at 9 a.m. on Friday. 

Men’s Jackrabbit tennis

As for the men’s side, the Jackrabbits just finished up at the River Forest Collegiate Invitational in River Forest, Ill. The men had strong outings overall, seeing four different flights reach their respective finals.

Sunday marked the final day of the invite, and it did not necessarily come with the results the Jackrabbits had hoped for. South Dakota State lost all six of its matches, including four finals. 

Despite not getting into the win column on Sunday, Engdahl remained positive and saw the silver lining.

“Today was another good day for us,” he said. “We didn’t get the results we wanted, but we competed the right way.”

Engdahl knows tennis is a mental game, and his team needs to focus on their next opponents.

“It was the type of day where we actually learned more by losing some tight matches. We definitely took two steps forward today and we are looking forward to a couple of weeks of practice before Omaha,” Engdahl said. 

Junior Jonny Higham was the only one to notch a victory for the Jacks on Sunday, and he did so in the flight C back draw. He topped Garrett Mandreu of Morehead State, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5. Higham also posted a victory in the flight D doubles draw when he teamed up with Jack Dykema of Xavier to beat Erich Schuette and Tom Hjertonsson of Northern Illinois, 6-1. 

Jackrabbit freshman Emerson Styles reached the final in the flight B singles draw, before falling to Georg Lundkvist of Northern Illinois by a mark of 6-3, 7-6 (7-0).

In the flight C singles final, junior Lucas Pereira fell to Nicholas Solarewicz of Detroit 6-0, 6-0.

Freshman Elliott Ward lost 6-2, 4-6 (10-7) to Conor O’Meara of DePaul in the flight D final.

Jackrabbit senior Mateus Moreira lost to Gabriel Ruis of Morehead in the flight A back draw final, 6-4, 2-6 (10-7). 

Jacks sophomore Marco Paulo Castro lost to Rafael Orantes of Detroit in the flight B back draw final, 6-4, 6-4. 

The Jackrabbit men’s tennis team will be on hiatus until October 2 through four4 when they play in the Omaha College Invitational.