With four-time Class 2A state champion Dusty Boyer now starring for the University of Nebraska, there’s a vacant throne in Minnesota boys’ high school tennis. Boyer’s departure has left the state’s new crop of top players believing that the title is within their grasp.
Incidentally enough, one of those players is Dusty’s younger brother, Forest Lake sophomore Toby Boyer.
“It opens up the state tournament,” Toby Boyer said of his older brother’s graduation. “A lot of kids could win it now. There are six or eight kids that have a chance to win it now instead of just one or two.”
Toby feels like he is one of those kids. Rangers head coach Greg Patchin would agree.
“Toby is right up there,” he said. “No doubt about it.”
Patchin has seen some remarkable players come through his program in the past several years. Dusty Boyer holds the record for state individual championships. Zach Decker, now at NCAA Division III Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was Toby’s doubles partner last year. They finished runner-up at state together.
In his first three years of varsity tennis, Toby compiled a 78-10 record. His only blemish last year was a default, which counts as a loss, in the section tournament. With three potential matches looming the next day, they decided to keep him rested.
Toby is a different talent from his older brother. Patchin likes to call him “Little [Roger] Federer,” in reference to the Swiss pro who some call the best player in the world.
Toby’s game features variety and shots that sometimes make Patchin ask, “Wait a minute, who taught you that? Where did that come from?”
He is a heavy hitter for a relatively smaller kid. The pros at his club estimated his serve was just below 125 mph a couple of weeks ago.
Toby also shows more emotion than his older brother, whom Patchin called a “nice man” who could shake off any bad beats, calls or poor gamesmanship.
Toby is already a leader. He makes his teammates better and enjoys showing up every day, even if there’s a 28-degree wind chill.
Differences aside, Toby has had the pleasure of playing with and watching his older brother.
“I’ve been watching him play since I was 10,” Toby said. “I’ve learned from his mistakes and his good things. I’ve just been watching and it’s helped a lot.”
The coaches poll pegged Boyer at No. 8 among the state’s top individual players.
Boyer played basketball all winter, thus not as active in the tennis tournament circuit as most other top players. Patchin believes that explains his initial ranking.
He said he also believes that as the season progresses, Boyer will climb the top-player chart.
“Once Toby gets his tennis bearings back, I think he’s going to be right up there with everybody else,” Patchin said.
Boyer aced his first test against a talented opponent, defeating Burke Anderson of Centennial 6-1, 6-4.
He wants to keep the state title in the Boyer family, but he knows it won’t be easy.
“I’d like to go for the state title, but getting to state could be pretty difficult, too,” he said. “We have a pretty good section.”