Between the boys' tennis rosters of Rapid City Christian and St. Thomas More, there is only one senior.
Tuesday at the Parkview Tennis Courts, two young teams tried to take a step towards playing their best tennis in May during the state tournament, and the Comets came out on top by one match.
Christian held off STM 5-4 in the dual, with the Comets winning four of the six singles matches and the Cavaliers winning two of the three doubles matches.
"The conditions were very challenging today, so that made it tough, but I think we did well," Christian coach Sterling Greni said.
STM was missing its first flight player, Sam Mortimer, due to injury, and considering his absence, Cavaliers' coach Andy Shaw said he was as pleased with the result as he could be with the loss.
"It’s very encouraging. Christian is a great program and I’m proud of our guys, everyone battled all the way to the end," he said. "You get a great match like this and both sides are winners. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true."
Both coaches pointed to key match that made the battle as close as it was, the third flight doubles bout where Rhett Bradsky and Sam Evans from STM topped Christian's Eli Goddard and Joe Schneller 3-6, 6-4 (11-9).
Greni said he thought his duo could have won the match, but at this point in the season, a close loss can be valuable.
"The thing that guys need is match toughness, and a close match like that is always good," he said. "Sometimes when you come out on the losing end like that, it really does a service. You can learn a lot more from it than if you had pulled it out."
Shaw said that match, as well as the flight two win by Rowan Evans and Nick Paikos over Cole Beckloff and Drake Beckloff 6-3, 6-6 (7-2) (7-3), are the kinds of matches that add confidence to his young team earlier in the season.
"The great part is that the players can recall these matches and say, ‘Okay, this is what I did here so I need to do that again,’ and that’s huge for us," he said. "It’ll pay off because we have some big competition coming up. It’s good to play against better teams and older teams because we can see where we want to get."
In the top flights, however, Christian didn't have much of a problem with STM.
In flight one singles, Thomas Postma rolled through Bradsky 6-1, 6-1. His doubles team with David Greni also rolled to a 6-0, 6-2 win in flight one over Baxter Meyer and Carter Janssen.
Postma is off to a 6-0 start in singles competition.
"My forehands were in and my serves were going in," he said. "I think we’re pretty strong as a young team. We have players that have at least one more year, and I have two more years, so I think we’re doing pretty good."
The Comets don't have a senior on their roster, but no one seems to find an issue with that. In the six-year history of the program, Christian has graduated only one senior, and many of the junior class has played with each other since seventh grade.
One of those juniors is David Greni, who in addition to his doubles win against Postma, also topped Rowan Evans in flight two singles 6-2, 6-3.
"I think it makes us better because next year we’ll have even a more veteran team," David Greni said. "We have a lot of kids with a lot of experience. We’ve been playing since seventh grade together so we have a lot of experience."
The Cavaliers don't have much more experience, as they have one senior on their roster while 16 of the 18 players are sophomores or younger.
Shaw said that has some advantages, especially as the team's confidence grows.
"This is such a fun group to coach because they are so young, and now they’re starting to get confidence in themselves, and you can’t coach that," he said. "Now they’re believing in themselves. We believe in them but they’re starting to believe in themselves. I’m excited."
In other singles action, Christian's Drake Beckloff topped Paikos 6-0, 6-2 in flight three while STM's Meyer defeated Cole Beckloff 6-0, 6-0 in flight four.
In flight five, the Comets' Goddard stopped Janssen 6-0, 6-2, and in flight six the Cavaliers' Nate Berzina topped Schneller 6-1, 6-3.
Rapid City Christian will travel to Harrisburg Thursday for a triangular with the Tigers and Lennox. STM will be in the Rapid City Invitational April 26-27.