Virginia hands CEC girls tennis 6-1 lossHow good is the Virginia girls’ tennis team? They can split their squad and handily beat two pretty good teams on the game day – one of which was Cloquet-Esko-Carlton.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
How good is the Virginia girls’ tennis team? They can split their squad and handily beat two pretty good teams on the game day – one of which was Cloquet-Esko-Carlton.
On Monday, the Blue Devils sent four regular varsity players plus other team members to Hermantown and blitzed the LSC-favorite Hawks 7-0. Their other six players went to Cloquet and handled the ’Jacks 6-1.
“They handed it to us pretty good,” CEC coach Steve Rickstrom said. “It was our first match in about two weeks and [Virginia] showed why they are fourth in the state.”
Virginia’s overwhelming depth was on display in two different locations. In Cloquet, the third doubles team of Kelsey Chalich and Alyssa Acheson defeated Alayna Starr and Kelsey Norlander by 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7-3) to earn the only team point the Blue Devils allowed all day.
Kelsey Collier was the next closest for Cloquet, falling 6-2, 6-3 to Lexi Gunderson at first singles.
Still, the match experience was
welcome for the ’Jacks, who had been idle for the entire month of September to that point. The team’s scheduled match against Hermantown on Sept. 7 was rained out and will be made up Oct. 2.
“The last match we played was against Hibbing in August,” Rickstrom said. “I don’t want to criticize, but our schedule is a little bit back-heavy. It makes sense to play the matches earlier with the weather nice, and save up makeup dates in case it rains. Now, if it rains during school we may not get the makeup days. We had two beautiful weeks where we did not play.”
In addition to that issue, there’s the larger one of how to keep a large squad interested with no matches to play.
“We’re working to develop the young kids, stay sharp and keep it fun,” Rickstrom said. “We’re in what we call the dog days of the season, with lots of practice time. We’re focusing on ground strokes, serving, improving second serve and improving our service return.”
However, once the team is back in the conference wars, it will be with a vengeance. The team will play Grand Rapids Monday, and have a rematch with Superior Tuesday.
But it beats not playing at all.
“Superior has improved since we beat them in the first match of the season, but we have too,” Rickstrom said. “But we’re playing. The two-week stretch was tough. It’s like two-a-days in football, you have to push through. We just want to remind people that the team is still on the radar.”