Sioux Falls, SD
The Lincoln boys tennis team has its sights set on a fifth straight championship at this week's state tournament in Rapid City.
Lincoln lost four members of last year's dominant championship team, which won eight-of-nine flights at the state tournament. Despite the roster turnover, Tom Krueger's squad remains the favorite heading into this year's tournament with just one loss this season.
"One of our big strengths is we've got solid players 1 through 6 and 1 through 3 doubles and there aren't any glaring weaknesses," Head Coach Tom Krueger said.
The Patriots are led by Sam Dobbs, who moved into the top flight after older brother Kaleb graduated last Spring. The junior hasn't missed a step, going a perfect 23-0 in singles.
"He's always been ready for that just because he's at that ability level. He plays a ton of tournaments, goes to national tournaments all the time so he's used to that pressure play," Krueger said.
While Dobbs has set the tone at the top of the lineup, the rest of the Patriots have followed suit, with no singles player having more than 5 losses on the year. That kind of success has the Patriots feeling confident heading to Rapid City.
"Hopefully we can bring our best of the season to the tournament. Anybody can beat everybody on our team right now," Junior Sam Dobbs said.
Another reason for that confidence is the team's experience, as the Patriots have 3 players who were part of last year's title team.
"We've got 3 guys that played Varsity before for us. It helps to have those guys step in and help the other guys get through the nerves and whatever, and realize we're a team and going after the same goal," Krueger said.
The Patriots are looking to become the second team in state history to win five straight championships, a feat first accomplished by Lincoln in the late 1990's.
"The number 5, we're trying to keep that in the back of our head right now and just play solid Tennis," Senior Graham Leonard said.
The state tennis tournament begins Thursday morning at Sioux Park and Parkview in Rapid City.
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