Last week, the Lennox High School boys’ tennis team made school history—claiming their first ever State Championship titles. The brother duo of Tyler and Jaxon Plank took home the State A Championship title at flight #1 doubles and Jaxon claimed the State A Championship title at flight #2 singles.
Both Jaxon and Tyler were excited to bring State titles home for the Orioles and doing it with family made it even more memorable.
“It is very special for me to win a state championship with my brother. It’s not common to have the opportunity that we were both given,” said Tyler. “We both worked hard to make sure we achieved the highest level of success that we could with our last season together.”
Jaxon agreed, “It was definitely an amazing experience! Winning a state championship is obviously awesome, but not everyone has the chance to do something extra special like this and is a memory we will always have together,” he said. “Especially with this being Tyler’s last high school season.”
Helping the brothers win their title was their dad — LHS head coach, Kevin Plank.
Plank was instrumental in starting the tennis program at Lennox, this marking the third season for the LHS boys after missing last year due to COVID-19.
Tyler attributes a lot of the success this season to his dad.
“For me, the largest contribution to our double’s success was the support and coaching from our dad,” said Tyler. “No matter what was happening during our matches, my dad always helped us in our success this season.”
The Plank brothers came into the Tournament with a 17-2 record at flight #1 and earned the number one seed, giving them a bye in the opening round which automatically took them into the quarterfinals. In the quarterfinals for flight #1, Tyler and Jaxon came out red hot and took care of Aberdeen Roncalli 6-0, 6-2 and stayed hot in their semifinals to score the win against Mitchell 6-0, 6-2. The duo then faced the second seeded team from Huron in the finals. In the first set both teams came out playing great, Lennox got a service break to take the lead mid-set, but Huron broke back to tie it up and take the fist set to a tie breaker. Lennox stayed poised and closed out the first set by winning the tie breaker 7-2. Again, the second set went back and forth and both teams had their chances to take leads but the play was just too strong from both teams, causing the second set to also go to a tie breaker. Lennox picked up an early lead and had match point at 6-5 in the breaker, but Huron fought back and tied it 6-6. Lennox rallied off two strong points to win the tie breaker 8-6, which earned them the win 7-6(1), 7-6(6) and title of flight #1 Doubles State Champions.
“Bringing a state championship back to Lennox in any sport is a great honor. The fact that I was able to win the school’s first ever state tennis final means a lot to me because tennis has always been something that I’ve worked hard at, and it’s rewarding for that hard work to pay off,” said Tyler. “Thank you to everyone who supported us throughout the season and at the state tournament! The success we were able to achieve as both a team and as individuals would not have been possible without it!”
Jaxon agreed, “I appreciate the team and want to thank the parents and the fans for all their support throughout the season. Without all of them we wouldn’t have had the success we had this year,” he added.
Tyler and Jaxon ended the season with a 20-2 record in doubles.
Their strong performance at State also earned them the honor of being named to the Class A All Tournament team.
Jaxon also found success individually, bringing home the Singles Championship Title at flight #2.
Jaxon entered the tournament 19-3 on the season and was the number two seed where he earned a bye in his first round. Jaxon then cruised through his quarter finals to earn a spot in the semi-finals. In Jaxon’s semi-finals he finished off his opponent from Rapid City Christian in quick fashion to earn a spot in the finals against Sioux Falls Christian. From the very first point in the finals Jaxon played aggressively and took control of the match and closed out the first set 6-1. His opponent tried to rally but Jaxon was too strong and closed out the second set 6-3 to win the match and become the flight #2 State A Champion.
Winning a State Championship title was not only special to him but also for the team to have the early success.
“It means a lot to me and to the team, I think it’s awesome that in a matter of three seasons the team has experienced this much success,” said Jaxon. “I think our fight, our willingness to learn and the positive environment we have as a team helped all of us throughout the season.”
Jaxon finished the season with a 22-3 record in singles.
Jaxon and Tyler weren’t the only Orioles finding success at the SDHSAA Class A boys State Tennis Tournament held May 17-18 in Sioux Falls.
The Orioles finished with its best finish in its three years of existence, claiming fifth place as a team.
The varsity team, which included seniors Tyler Plank, Layne Lunstra and Brenton West, junior Dason Wilson, sophomores Jaxon Plank and Andrew Daugherty and freshmen Cody Plank and Gunnar Geiken, tied for fifth place after notching 19 individual wins and taking home state titles at flight #1 doubles and flight #2 singles.
The tournament started off strong for the Orioles in singles where they scored first round wins in singles from Tyler Plank, Daugherty, Cody Plank and Geiken. Jaxon won the State title in the singles but the others weren’t able to tally any other singles wins in the championship quarterfinals,. Each of them, however, bounced back and recorded strong wins to move on to the consolation semi-finals for a chance to play for fifth place, but unfortunately they weren’t able to score any other victories.
Competing in doubles at State were the Champions Tyler and Jaxon Plank at flight #1. Also competing were Daugherty and Cody Plank at flight #2 and Lunstra and Geiken at flight #3. Again, the first day started strong for the Orioles as flights #2 and #3 scored wins in their first round matches to earn a spot in the quarter finals, Flights #2 and #3 battled in their next round but, unfortunately, each lost to the eventual state champ at their respective flights. But the duo of Daugherty and Cody Plank at flight #2 kept their composure and rallied off two more wins and made it to the consolation finals to play for fifth place against Mitchell. Michell, however, proved to be too strong and scored the win to earn the fifth place spot. Lunstra and Geiken did tally one win in the consolation to earn a spot in the semi finals, but unfortunately, that’s where the road ended for them as they lost to the eventual fifth place team from Rapid City Christian.
With the Orioles strong individual results, they earned a fifth place finish—the best team finish for the Orioles in school history.