CEC Tennis falls to Grand Rapids, but is improving overall
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
The CEC girls tennis team has reached the halfway point of its season with better than anticipated results, according to coach Steve Rickstrom.
The young ‘Jacks won three of their first 10 matches, noteworthy due to the comparatively low level of experience on the varsity from past seasons.
“Things are shaping up,” Rickstrom said, “better than I thought we would be from the outset. We have a number kids improving more quickly than we anticipated.”
The singles players have been a strength so far, but Rickstrom notes that better than expected doubles play has helped too.
“In our doubles team we have a couple of relative beginners out there, but they are playing fairly well. We’ve run into some tough teams.”
On Monday, CEC fell 4-3 to Grand Rapids at home.
“They (Grand Rapids) have one of the best singles players in the region, but the match was close and we gave them a run for their money.”
Rickstrom says solid play at singles has been the nicest surprise, so far.
“We can compete with most anyone down to No. 4 singles,” he said. “Our younger kids are stepping in and stepping up.”
Rickstrom was pleased with the play of freshman Reilly Kedrowski and eighth-grader Lora Chalich, both of whom have seen time on the varsity.
“We’ve started first-year players in every match,” he said. “It’s not like we’re heavy on experienced players.”
CEC lost only 4-3 to Duluth East at the end of August, which was a highlight.
“They are always very good but they rested some of their main players,” Rickstrom said. “Still, we did pretty well against them.”
Now Rickstrom is looking for a long-term approach to grow the program.
“We work on positioning now, because ground strokes really aren’t going to improve much during a short season when progress is really made by playing all summer,” he said. “The way you improve in tennis is not during the season, since it’s so short.”
The team is able to work on strokes during the week but Rickstrom notes that with the heavy match schedule, practice can sometimes be difficult.
“You might improve a bit, but you really have to apply yourself if you’re going to change your game,” he said. “We’ve played some very tough competition so far and we’re doing fairly well.”