AUSTIN EDITION -- Riverland men return just one player
By Guy N. Limbeck
Riverland Community College has one returning letterwinner in men's tennis and the rest of the squad is made of players who have excelled in other sports.
Sophomore Eddie Mjoen of Austin is the lone player back from the team that placed seventh in the Division III national tournament a year ago. Riverland was also seventh nationally two years ago.
Mjoen played No. 4 singles and three doubles a year ago. He advanced to the national semifinals in doubles as he and his partner upset the No. 1 seed along the way. And he has made a lot of progress in the offseason, taking lessons from a pro and improving his groundstrokes.
"He's just all-around more confident and a much better player," Riverland coach Suzy Hebrink said.
Mjoen is battling for a top three singles spot with sophomore Brian Elwer and freshman Paul Jacobsen. The 6 foot, 8 inch Elwer is Austin High's all-time leading scoring in basketball. He played college basketball at Augustana last year before transferring to Riverland.
"Brian's a good tennis player," Hebrink said. "He just never played (competitively) before because he played basketball year around."
Elwer features a powerful serve and figures to be an imposing figure at the net.
Jacobsen was a member of Austin High's state tournament hockey team in 2001. He also played tennis for the Packers.
Todd Christopherson is another former Austin High tennis player who should be in the No. 4 singles slot for the Blue Devils.
Vlado Blagojevic is another former Austin High athlete, but he excelled in soccer for the Packers and is trying to crack the Riverland lineup.
Freshmen Andy Stouvenel and Curt Peterson both played basketball at Riverland this winter and are also in the mix to play as are Jon Olson of Albert Lea and Rory Ellegaard.
"It's pretty much open, depending on who shows up," Hebrink said of the lower singles and doubles positions.
The coach still likes the Blue Devils' chances of making a third straight trip to nationals.
"We have a good chance to go to nationals again with the men," Hebrink said. "I think three strong guys at the top of the order will help."
2002 RIVERLAND MEN'S TENNIS
Sophomores -- Eddie Mjoen*, Brian Elwer, Jon Olson, Vlado Blagojevic, Rory Ellegaard. Freshmen -- Paul Jacobsen, Todd Christopherson, Curt Peterson, Andy Stouvenel.
* -- denotes returning letterwinners.
April 8 -- at Bethany Lutheran College, 3 p.m.
April 11 -- at Ridgewater, 2 p.m.
April 15 -- Bethany Lutheran College, 1:30 p.m.
April 16 -- Ridgewater, 2 p.m.
April 18-20 -- Regional Tournament at Willmar, TBA
April 24 -- at Martin Luther College, 1:30 p.m.
May 2 -- Martin Luther College, 2 p.m.
May 13-17 -- National Tournament at Plano, Texas, TB