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Anne Photograp News 2024

Jacks power their way to victory over Thief River Falls on Radio Night
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Jacks power their way to victory over Thief River Falls on Radio Night

BEMIDJI – There is no doubt where Dom Arndt is on the tennis court. Just look at the kid doing his trademark fist pump after winning a point.

The Bemidji High School boys tennis junior pumped his fist frequently in the Lumberjacks’ 5-2 victory over Thief River Falls on Friday night. His 6-0, 6-1 victory over Kaleb Funk came on Radio Night in front of a capacity crowd and a live radio broadcast on KBUN at the BHS tennis courts.

“Dom clicked,” Jacks head coach Kyle Fodness said. “I remember talking to him in the fall. I said, ‘Hey, I’m looking forward to having you there to play tennis. Dom said to me, ‘Yes, I’m thinking about it (playing tennis).’ I told him I had already done the thinking for him. He just stepped in as a coachable guy, and he’s a competitor. Dom’s fist pump is iconic. It just takes time to click on all the cylinders.”

Arndt is a plug-and-play player. Predilection can keep him in any singles position and count on him to deliver a competitive result.

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Bemidji head coach Kyle Fodness cheers on eighth-grader Owen Lappinga between sets during a No. 2 singles match against Thief River Falls on Friday, May 10, 2024 at the BHS tennis courts.

Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“Dom has done a great job moving (up and down the lineup),” Fodness said. “Before I could even tell him he’s like, ‘Coach, it’s like lines in hockey. I’m just going to do my job.’ He’s done his job really well and it’s great to see him come alive and be rewarded for some wins. We can’t wait to work together in the summer.”

Arndt has been on a roll in recent weeks, picking up wins left and right at various singles positions.

“Tennis is unlike any other sport I’ve played because a lot of it is mental,” Arndt said. “You shouldn’t leave too many points in front of you or in your head. These guys – my teammates, my coaches – taught me a lot. They help me calm down. Practicing every day and getting reps every day has helped a lot. I just try to get better every day.”

Arndt’s win secured Bemidji’s second point. The Lumberjacks went on to win all three doubles matches to secure the team win and move to 12-4 on the season.

BHS had a larger crowd than would normally be the case for a Friday tennis match. Not only did a traveling crowd of TRF supporters make the trip, but the opportunity to play under the lights sent the loyal Lumberjacks into the weekend with some late-night tennis.

“I like to play at night,” Arndt said. “It’s not that different from normal, but the lighting is different. You can see the ball quite well here at night. I actually prefer the later matches. There’s something special about it.

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KBUN’s Joel Hoover, right, broadcasts a match against Thief River Falls with John McNallan, center, and Casey Rupp on Friday, May 10, 2024 at the BHS tennis courts.

Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“It means a lot to the team because when you see a lot of people here who want to see you, you pick up on that. It’s a good feeling to have all the fans by your side. Even for the other team, it’s cool to play in front of a lot of people. We don’t play outside here very often and the turnout was really good.”

Fodness admitted he was too caught up in the matches to appreciate the community support in real time.

“I’m sometimes bad at taking my own advice because I always tell the boys to cherish the moment,” Fodness said. “This is a great experience and they enjoyed the turnout. Thief River Falls is easily accessible and they have a great tennis community. It was just a really cool atmosphere and experience for our guys to play in tonight.”

JD Hasbargen got the Jacks’ first point with a 6-0, 6-0 victory at No. 3 singles.

“JD is one of those guys you look back on and think, ‘I miss him as a senior player’,” Fodness said. “You always miss your seniors, but JD is the ultimate reassurance for the captain. No player wins every game, but JD just goes out there and does his job. He goes out and takes care of business. His job today was to anchor the singles line-up, and he left no doubt about it.”

While Hasbargen and Jack McNallan played singles matches, Bemidji found an unlikely duo leading the way in the doubles competition.

Max Louvar and Peter Mathews earned a 6-2, 6-3 victory in the No. 1 doubles match, and they have given Fodness the option to move McNallen and Hasbargen to the singles competition if necessary.

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Bemidji senior JD Hasbargen serves the ball during a No. 3 singles match against Thief River Falls on Friday, May 10, 2024 at the BHS tennis courts.

Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“What made it possible was that Peter and Max made a good team as a team,” said Fodness. “We brought those guys into a combination a few times because we had to. We already suspected that they would work well together in practice. We were kind of forced to do it against St. Michael-Albertville. When they’re on, they’re on. Sometimes that higher level of play at No. 1 doubles takes that out of your game.”

One match went to a third set. Owen Lappinga lost the first set at No. 2 singles 6-1 before recovering with a 6-0 win. The third set went the distance, and then some, with TRF’s Spencer Hempel taking a 14-12 win.

For Lappinga, an eighth-grader, experiencing the collective eyes of his spectators and teammates focused solely on him was a moment that will prove valuable later.

“Owen has done a great job of doing what we ask of everyone, which is learning and improving,” Fodness said. “He made some really good adjustments from the first to the second set. He continued these adjustments as the match progressed. Tennis is such an experiential sport. In close competitions there is no substitute for experience.”

“You have to have the lights, the people watching, and you just have to gain experience with that. It is priceless. For Owen to play this match, with his teammates watching and cheering him on, that was really cool.

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Bemidji junior Jack McNallan dives to return a volley during a No. 1 singles match against Thief River Falls on Friday, May 10, 2024 at the BHS tennis courts.

Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Bemidji 5, Thief River Falls 2

Singles

No. 1: Cornelius (TRF) def. McNallan 6-0, 6-3

No. 2: Hempel (TRF) final. Lappinga 6-1, 0-6, 14-12

No. 3: Hasbargen (BHS) def. Burkel 6-0, 6-0

No. 4: Arndt (BHS) def. Funk 6-0, 6-1

Double

No. 1: Louvar/Mathews (BHS) def. Rantanen/Olson 6-2, 6-3

No. 2: Johnson/Arel (BHS) def. Dodson/Dearth 6-2, 6-0

No. 3: Harris/Friese (BHS) def. Williams/Svensgaard 6-1, 6-0

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Bemidji sophomore Peter Mathews returns a volley during a No. 1 doubles match against Thief River Falls on Friday, May 10, 2024 at the BHS tennis courts.

Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

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Bemidji eighth grader Owen Lappinga returns a volley during a No. 2 singles match against Thief River Falls on Friday, May 10, 2024 at the BHS tennis courts.

Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer