’Jacks tennis sweep doubles, defeat Superior 6-1The school year hasn’t even started yet but by the time it does, the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton tennis team will be at mid-season. The team opened its schedule on Tuesday with a 6-1 win against Superior, sweeping the doubles matches in the process.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
The school year hasn’t even started yet but by the time it does, the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton tennis team will be at mid-season.
The team opened its schedule on Tuesday with a 6-1 win against Superior, sweeping the doubles matches in the process.
Kelsey Collier, starting her third season at No. 1 singles, beat Superior’s Natalie Burger
6-1, 6-1. Savanna Ellena, who moves up to second singles from No. 3, beat Raya Kosey 6-2, 6-2, and Reilly Kedrowski defeated Christine Johnstad 6-4, 6-0. Michaela Houser just missed giving CEC a sweep, falling 10-8 in a tie-breaker to Superior’s Jillisa Gallinda at third singles.
In the doubles, Lizz Jezierski and Steph Campbell needed three sets to defeat Sara Baker and Cece Preston, winning the third set 6-2. Asha Fritsinger and Kalie Shevich won 6-2, 6-3 at second doubles and Alyssa Acheson and freshman Breanne Baker won 6-0, 6-4 at No. 3.
“We don’t know how much all this will tell us,” coach Steve Rickstrom said. “We will know more this weekend.”
That’s because the team will be heavily into its schedule against a very tough slate of opposition.
The team will play Duluth East and the new combined Central-Denfeld team on Friday in a doubleheader before heading to St. Francis on Saturday for a four-team tournament.
The ’Jacks won’t lack experience, but unfortunately that is a common characteristic among other teams in the region as well.
“Several of our next rung of talented players are back with returning experience,” Rickstrom said. “It’s hard to say where they are all going to fit in for now, but the lineup against Superior had only two girls who hadn’t played varsity.”
One of those two is Baker, who hadn’t played tennis before until this spring – and now finds herself on the varsity.
“She has grown up around sports and athletics,” Rickstrom said. “She spent lots of time in summer programs and was a stalwart there. She has been a big surprise and is pushing very hard for playing time.”
One very pleasant problem Rickstrom has is huge numbers in the program. Thirty players are out for the team. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that only 10 can play in a match, and CEC can’t field a junior varsity due to budget constraints. So, making sure everyone gets to play will be hard.
“We have exhibition matches whenever we can to get kids time on the court,” Rickstrom said, “but we can’t do that this weekend with all the matches we play so the kids need to be patient.”
The upcoming schedule will make sure everyone is battle-tested.
“We scrimmaged Holy Angels last Saturday and they kicked us around pretty good,” Rickstrom said. “We competed very well but I don’t think we won a match the whole day. The talent we play against is very deep.”
That’s also true in the Lake Superior Conference.
“Marshall is the favorite, Denfeld and Central are combined, Ashland is fairly strong and Hermantown should be really good this year. Add to that Virginia, Eveleth, Hibbing, Grand Rapids and other traditionally good schools and you get the idea.”
Duluth East has brought in an exchange student from Sweden who might be the best player in the area, according to Rickstrom, and the ’Jacks will play against her on Friday.
“It seems like I say this every year, but we are optimistic,” Rickstrom said. “But, there are teams out there that are tremendous. We’re hoping to be better than last year and if we beat teams, it will be due to depth.
“We won’t see many weak teams,” Rickstrom added. “I can’t think of a team on the schedule that’s a pushover. We might end up going 2-14 this season and thinking we are actually pretty good. It’s going to be a weird year, and an interesting season, that much I know, but it will be fun.”