2019 Boys Tennis Players of the Year

Princeton juniors Ryne Muehlschlegel (left) and Cole Adams had a successful season as the No. 1 doubles team for the Tigers. After playing No. 2 doubles as sophomores, the pair showed improvement this season as they went 16-6 and were the only area competitors to win a match at sectional.

At the Princeton boys tennis season ending banquet, the team got coach Connie Lind a gift.

The Tigers gave her gift cards to some of the restaurants Lind takes her team to during road trips and to McDonalds, which PHS visits on Saturdays the team is playing at home.

Junior Ryne Muehlschlegel confirmed they were truly meant for Lind, not for them for next season.

“That wasn’t our intention,” Muehlschlegel said. “We knew that coach Lind liked those places and she could go in her free time. But, I’m not going to complain if she wants to use them on us.”

Lind was flattered the boys got her the gift.

She doesn’t know who the cards will be used on, but she has a hunch.

“My gift from the team this year was gift certificates to all of our favorite places like Arthur’s Deli, Marchellonis and McDonalds,” Lind said. “They didn’t say they were to be used on them, but I probably will.”

Junior Cole Adams wouldn’t mind if Lind’s ‘probably’ becomes a reality next spring.

“I hope so. If not, it’s not too big of a deal.” Adams said.

When he was told Lind probably will use them on her team, his response was one word, ‘Sweet.’

During this season, the restaurant stops were part of what became a successful season for Muehlschlegel and Adams.

The Tigers’ No. 1 doubles team finished 16-6, were the only area competitors to win a sectional match and were second in the two invitationals PHS played in at Princeton and Mendota.

For their accomplishments, Adams and Muehlschlegel are the 2019 NewsTribune Boys Tennis Players of the Year.

It’s the second year in a row a PHS doubles team claimed the honor as Nolan Frank and Ryan Frank took the award in 2018.

“I think we became more familiar with each other’s playing style,” Adams said. “We kind of knew going into the match what we were going to do when the ball went to a certain place on the court. We didn’t have to communicate a ton because we were expecting the other person to do their job and be there.That helped us a lot during the season.

“We knew the competition was going to get tougher as the season went on, so as we played more matches we just tried to pick it up a notch going into every match. We started off well, hit a few rough spots but we got through them and by the end of the season we were playing pretty well together.”

The No. 1 doubles duo began the season on fire as they had a 6-0 record to begin the campaign.

As the season progressed and they faced tougher opponents, Muehlschlegel and Adams listened to each other and Lind to push through.

“I think we got off to a pretty good start,” Muehlschlegel said. “Cole and I being partners last year at No. 2 doubles helped us with our chemistry and knowing how each other plays. Coach Lind is a good coach and she helped us along, too. She has a lot of experience.

“A lot of things coach Lind stressed were, for example: if I was at the net, instead of coming forward to hit the ball if it came at me, she showed us to move diagonally instead of in straight lines. That was a big thing.”

The chemistry wasn’t the only thing formed from the partners playing together last season.

Lind knew Muehlschlegel and Adams were going to be key players on her team and gave them the honor of being captain with senior No. 2 doubles player Austin Phillips.

“At the beginning of the season, I selected Cole and Ryne as team captains. I usually don’t have juniors as captains,” Lind said. “It’s always seniors, but because they played No. 2 doubles all the way through last year, they were captains with Austin Phillips. With the captains, I go to them a lot throughout the year. If I have any questions, I ask for their input.

“It seemed like luck was with them more their junior year than in their sophomore year. In their sophomore year, they still had a good season, but they probably had five matches they ended up losing in a third-set tiebreaker. In their junior year they played a third-set tie breaker, but their experience carried them through.”

During the summer, both soon-to-be PHS seniors are hard working men.

Adams is working two jobs as a groundskeeper for Princeton elementary schools and is traveling around Illinois with Sunset Cinema setting up inflatable movie screens, while Muehlschlegel is building grain bins 12 hours a day, six days a week.

Both of them plan to pick up their rackets as frequently as possible.

“We got knocked out in the play-in match for state this year,” Adams said. “Our goal for next year is to get to state. We’re going to take it one match at a time and hopefully we can make it to state.”

Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6995, or sports@newstrib.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.

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