SPIRIT LAKE - After winning both singles and doubles opening matches, the Cherokee Braves tennis team found itself in the thick of the team race at Class 1A Districts here last week.
In singles for the Braves, Connor Ogren beat Sioux City Heelan's Joe Keane 6-3, 7-6 (8 tiebreaker); and Matt Enderlin defeated Tim Soper of Estherville-LC 6-2, 6-2 in their opening round.
In the second round, Ogren lost 0-6, 0-1 to eventual District champion Michael Gabhart of Spencer; and Enderlin fell 2-6, 6-4, 1-6 to Trystan Wiedow of Spirit Lake-Okoboji.
In first-round doubles action for Cherokee, Alezz Maurer and Andrea Pavanello beat Heelan's Sam Liewer and Alex Prather 7-6 (3 tiebreaker), 1-6, 6-4; and Brett Walker and Alec Schultz beat Levi Jensen and Jacob Olson of E-LC 6-1, 6-0.
SL-O won the team title with 20 points, followed by Le Mars 12, Spencer 11, Storm Lake 10, Cherokee 10, Heelan 9, Denison-Schleswig 3, and E-LC 0.
"The luck of the draw was with us and the kids stepped up to the plate and took advantage with solid first-round play," said Cherokee coach Dave Zelle. "For only the second time in history, we won all four of our first-round matches and scored enough points to be in the thick of the race for second and third place.
"It was nice to see the entire squad play up to their abilities in that first round, and for everyone to have the fun of a win at Districts. We've improved greatly from the beginning of the season. Now, we need to get people on the courts regularly in the summer and fall to build for next year."