The Cherokee tennis Braves, defending Lakes Conference champions for the first time in school history, found the going tough in their first two difficult season-opening road matches, falling 7-2 to a talented Denison-Schleswig team last Friday, and then losing by the same 7-2 score at Le Mars Monday night.
At Denison last week, Cherokee rode #1 Cole Renken's singles victory and Renken's and Nick Parker's #1 doubles victory for the only ream points.
In singles, Renken beat Nick Ingram 10-7 at #1, Parker lost to Jacob Heiden 10-5 at #2, Alex Struck lost 10-7 ro Ryan Petersen at #3, Jordan Ogren fell 10-2 to Andrew Hrabik at #4, John Bieber lost 10-3 to Joel Aurand at #5, and Zac Woods lost 10-2 to Philip Keairnes at #6.
In varsity doubles, Renken and Parker beat Ingram and Heiden 10-6 at #1, Struck and Ogren fell 10-4 to Petersen and Keairnes at #2, and Bieber and Woods lost 10-4 to Hrabik and Aurand at #3.
Denison-Schleswig features a waffle court comprised of two different surfaces both smooth and gritty in each square, as opposed to a total hard-surface court, a distinct advantage for the home team used to playing on such a surface.
"Denison-Schleswig lost their #3 and #6 to graduation, while we lost our #1 and #2," said Cherokee coach Dave Zelle. "They also had played two matches and this was our first outing. Beyond that, the meet was a wake-up call of how hard we still need to work this season."
At Le Mars, Struck was the lone varsity singles winner, and Renken and Parker again prevailed at #1 doubles.
Struck hammered his opponent Josh Meridith 10-1 at #3, and Renken and Parker smashed Brian Kehn and Meridith 10-1 at #1 doubles.
In other varsity singles action for the Braves, Renken lost 10-5 at #1 to Mike Ahlers, Parker lost 10-8 to Kehn at #2, Ogren lost 10-7 to Kent Hasselquist at #4, Bieber lost 10-4 to Keegan Droggs at #5, and Matt Enderling lost 10-4 to Curt Durr at #6.
In varsity doubles, Renken and Parker beat Kehn and Meridith 10-1 at #1, Struck and Ogren lost 10-2 to Ahlers and Hasselquist at #2, and Bieber and Enerlin fell 10-6 to Driggs and Eric Harvey at #3.
Cherokee lost the JV match 7-0. In singles, Woods lost 8-2 at #1, Burkhardt lost 8-2 at #2, David Enderlin lost 8-6 at #3, Conner Ogren lost 8-4 at #4, and Laursen lost 8-3 at #5. IN JV doubles, Woods and Burkhardt lost 8-2 at #1, and Enderlin and Ogren fell 8-5 at #2.
"We plain got beat by a team that was a much stronger serving team than we are and was tougher mentally," said Zelle. "Struck played a superb match, crushing an opponent who had beaten him last year, and Renken and Parker looked very sharp at #1 doubles again. "We have a lot of work to do."
The Braves travel to Spencer tonight for a weather make-up originally scheduled in Cherokee April 6. The dates have been switched and Spencer now comes to Cherokee April 26.