Vikings earn three all-conference honorable-mention honors
The North Branch boys tennis team closed its 2014 season on May 20 with a 7-0 loss to sixth-seeded Cloquet during the opening round of the Section 7AA tournament.
During individual singles play, senior Pedro Lisboa fell in the first round while junior Newell Fisk earned his first section win before losing in the second round. Head coach Tom McLaughlin said he was ecstatic to see Fisk battle for his first postseason win.
“It was a big deal,” McLaughlin said. “There was a smile on his face, and on mine. And not so much in amazement that he won, just in awe.”
On the doubles side, senior Tyler Byrkit and junior Conner Martineau won their first-round game over Andover, 6-2, 6-4, then lost 6-2, 6-2 to a tough third-seeded Duluth East duo. Juniors Tom Spencer and Nick Inman lost in the first round, 6-0, 6-0, to St. Francis.
Martineau and Byrkit led the Vikings this season by winning four matches, including two in the Mississippi 8 Conference, while the No. 3 doubles duo of juniors Tennie Jacobson and Avery Kraemer followed with three wins.
The squad went 1-12 overall this season. They ended the regular season on a high note with a 7-0 win over Mora. McLaughlin said he was pleased with his squad’s attitude throughout the short spring season.
“They were phenomenal with how they kept it together,” McLaughlin said. “I mean, we played more than we practiced, and they did great about keeping their heads up, and despite a couple of low moments, they kept trying and had fun.”
Lisboa, a foreign exchange student from Brazil, and Byrkit and Martineau all earned all-conference honorable-mention honors this year.
North Branch graduates five seniors from the squad, including Lisboa, Byrkit, Johnny Schuster, Zach Stenger and Dan Barnett, who spent five years in the program.
“They are worth their weight in gold, if not platinum,” McLaughlin joked. “Between Tyler’s athleticism, Johnny’s leadership and Zach’s sense of fun, they are fantastic. Dan is just great with the younger kids; it was great to see him make it all the way through from seventh grade. And Pedro will be hard to replace, what can I say, he was our best singles player on the team.”