The Pierre T.F. Riggs Governors competed in the Class A State Boys Tennis Tournament in Rapid City on Monday and Tuesday. A total of 13 teams competed in the event.
The Govs placed fifth with a team score of 282.5. The Yankton Bucks placed first with a score of 493.5, while the Rapid City Christian Comets placed second with a score of 422.5. The team score of the Govs is higher than their score at last year’s State Tournament (259.5.) The Govs tied for fifth place last season. Govs coach Emily Williamson told the Capital Journal that the team played well in the State Tournament.
“Everyone had a really great mindset,” Williamson said. “It was beneficial for the team that everyone won their first round matches at all flights. The team was able to score points throughout the tournament. I was happy that almost all flights made it onto the podium. We did not place as high as we wished, but we had a great season and successful tournament.”
This season was Williamson’s first year as head coach for the Govs. She said the season was a learning experience.
“I think the season went well,” Williamson said. “There were a lot of adjustments that I had to make as a head coach, and the players did too. There are certainly some things that I will do differently next year.”
Individually, the Govs were led by senior Spencer Kelly, who placed first in singles flight No. 5. Kelly won State despite battling a shoulder injury just days before the State Tournament started. Kelly said that being a State Champion feels amazing.
“I knew I could do it, but it was just a matter of playing to the best of my abilities,” Kelly said.
Senior Luke Leinhgang placed second in flight No. 4, while senior Blake Judson placed third in flight No. 2. Senior Carter Schulz placed fourth in flight No. 6.
Judson became the first Governors boys athlete to place in both the state wrestling and tennis tournament in the same year, joining junior Marlee Shorter in exclusive company. Judson told the Capital Journal that it’s an honor to accomplish such a feat.
“Overall, I just feel very proud knowing that all of the work I put into accomplishing this was worth it,” Judson said. “I can say that I gave it my all no matter what sport I was competing in.”
In doubles, the team of Kelly and Leingang placed fourth in flight No. 2. Judson and fellow senior Matthew Hanson placed sixth in flight No. 1.
The Govs have seven senior athletes that are graduating after this season, all of which saw varsity action over the past couple of seasons. Those athletes are Matthew Hanson, Blake Judson, Spencer Kelly, Luke Leingang, Matyas Pribyl, Josh Ryckman and Carter Schulz. Williamson said that these seniors will be missed.
“I was lucky to come to a team with a strong senior class,” Williamson said. “I have appreciated their leadership and guidance. We are sad to see them go, but we are excited to rebuild the program. We will have a very young team for the next few years. I think that will be great for the future of Governors tennis.”