Tight win sparks Champlin Park tennis

Champlin Park head boys tennis coach Brian Larson has been pleased with what he has seen from his group during the first two weeks of the season.

Champlin Park first singles player Matt Mungai returns a volley during Champlin Park’s 6-1 loss to Coon Rapids April 6. (Photo courtesy of Bill Jones)
Champlin Park first singles player Matt Mungai returns a volley during Champlin Park’s 6-1 loss to Coon Rapids April 6. (Photo courtesy of Bill Jones)

With a nice balance of older and younger players, there are four seniors compared to six underclassmen, including two freshmen and four new players, on the roster, Larson believes his program has a solid foundation to build on this season.

“So far, so good,” Larson said. “It’s week two, so I’m still trying to figure out lineups and where we are.”

While there is plenty left to be figured out, Larson said he has enjoyed watching his seniors Garrett Reichenbach, Kei Heltemes, Matt Mungai and Salmaan Mulla take leadership roles on the team.

“Our seniors just bring that leadership,” Larson said. “They know what to do, when to do it.

“They know how we operate and they teach that to the younger guys. It’s all about teaching the younger guys how to play.”

With a tough conference and section, Champlin Park knows finding wins will not be easy this season. Rather than focusing on the wins and losses, Larson has the Rebels focusing in on the effort they give match in and match out.

“Our big goal almost every season is just to play competitive matches,” Larson said. “The wins will come when they come.

“We want to be able to compete with most teams, there are some teams we play that are just better than us in all facets, but we want to go in and do the best we can.”

While wins aren’t always going to be the ultimate goal for the Rebels, Larson said it still felt good for Champlin Park to win its opener 4-3 against Osseo April 4. Heltemes recorded the lone singles win at No. 2 singles, while the doubles teams of Mulla and Reichenbach, juniors Max Kocher and David Lammers, and Doniven Nguyen and Spencer Magpuri all recorded wins.

“That one was big for us to get the confidence,” Larson said. “We know we have skilled players, but getting that first win was a big one toward getting the confidence and playing with it.”

Champlin Park had three of its four match victories come from its doubles teams, but Larson said he feels the strength of the team will change based on what lineup he decides to roll with.

“Our strength depends on how well we play,” Larson said. “I think we’re a pretty deep team, so it’s about knocking the rust off, get playing and see how well we do.”

Champlin Park ended its first week of play with a 6-1 loss to Coon Rapids April 6. The Rebels will play next against Andover at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 20, at Andover High School.

Contact Chris Chesky at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsChris.