The senior class for the Davenport North tennis team has helped set a new bar for the Wildcats' program the last few seasons.
That's the reason it will be tough for the Wildcats to replace the five seniors who played their final team match Monday afternoon against Dubuque Hempstead.
The Wildcats and Mustangs were tied at 3-3 after the singles portion of their Class 2A preliminary substate match on the Wildcats' home courts. But Hempstead was able to pull out the victory by claiming the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles matches to win, 5-4.
Hempstead (9-6) advances to take on Linn-Mar at Pleasant Valley on Saturday. North finishes the season with a dual record of 8-4.
North's No. 1 singles player, Carter Josund, who has been a part of the Wildcats' climb toward the top of the Mississippi Athletic Conference, said the wins and losses won't be what he remembers.
"We've created a brotherhood and that is what I am going to miss the most," Josund said. "Coming out here and competing with these guys ... and we are not going to have that anymore. Right now, it stings, but we will look back on this and definitely smile and talk about all the great things we did."
Those great things included finishing in third place two years in a row behind MAC powerhouses Pleasant Valley and Bettendorf in the conference. Conquering those programs is a goal for down the road but the Wildcats are in that group just below the Bulldogs and Spartans.
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"We've taken care of business these past three years, especially, we've accomplished all the goals that we have been looking for. (Monday) was a letdown but it does not take away from other accomplishments," Josund said.
Josund won his No. 1 singles match, 6-3, 6-4 over Hempstead's Luke Althaus. He then teamed up with fellow senior Nate Williams at No. 1 doubles to claim that match 6-4, 6-1. Williams was also a winner at No. 3 singles, 6-1, 6-0 over the Mustangs' Jack Kolker.
Spencer Wakeland's win at No. 3 singles had the home team off to a 3-0 edge. But the visitors were able to sweep the bottom half of singles play to climb back into the match. North's lone junior in the starting lineup, Owen Stieger, lost a tough three-set match to Hempstead's Derek Willis, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
With Hempstead claiming the No. 3 doubles with a win from Willis and Max Duax, the match came down to No. 2 doubles. Stieger and Wakeland dropped the first set 6-4 but led 3-2 in the second set. But Willis and Duax were able to reel off four straight games to claim the 6-3 win and the team win.
"You can feel the momentum sometimes and that's the way it goes," Josund said.
North coach Chris Hall said he likes where the program is at but added replacing this group of seniors will be a challenge. Landen Taylor and Blake Stoughton were also a key part of the senior group.
"If you think about replacing your starting five in basketball, that is tough and that's what this group is," Hall said. "Truthfully, that entire group has helped bring this program along. A lot of the younger guys look up to these seniors and it really has been a fun ride."