CEC tennis see-saw through four matchesThe Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls tennis team is closing in on its best-ever Lake Superior Conference finish after a 2-2 week enabled them to develop a strong hold on second place.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls tennis team is closing in on its best-ever Lake Superior Conference finish after a 2-2 week enabled them to develop a strong hold on second place.
A brutally disappointing Saturday loss to Ashland ended any hopes of a conference championship, but a 6-1 win against Hermantown on Monday helped right the ship.
“I think we’re happy,” coach Steve Rickstrom said. “Obviously there are ups and downs in every season but if you look at the team we started with, we’re maybe a step ahead of where we thought we’d be.”
The match with Hermantown on Monday was a makeup of a match delayed by rain from the first day of school. The ’Jacks swept the singles matches with the marquee event being the fourth career match between the top two singles players – CEC’s Kelsey Collier and Hermantown’s D.J. Nelson.
Collier triumphed 6-4, 4-6, 10-8 to even the lifetime series between the two at two matches apiece.
“Kelsey played the arch-rival of her career,” Rickstrom said. “It was the fourth time they had played at No. 1 singles and it was really fun to watch. Both players played well.”
CEC also got singles wins from Savanna Ellena and Kristen and Lora Chalich.
“Savanna has had some tough matches, but beat a player she should have beaten,” Rickstrom said. “The Chaliches haven’t had much of a chance to play, and it was Lora’s first appearance in singles. Both played within themselves, kept the ball in play, and won.”
The lineup alteration allowed regular singles players Reilly Kedrowski and Michaela Houser to play first doubles together and they won 6-2, 6-1.
“They both needed wins,” Rickstrom said. “Asha (Fritsinger) and Kalie (Shevich) needed a win too and they got it at second doubles.”
The win came on top of a crushing 5-2 loss to Ashland on Saturday that cost CEC a shot at the conference title. Collier won at first singles but Ellena and Kedrowski both fell in tough three-set matches at second and third singles while Lizz Jezierski and Steph Campbell were the only other CEC lineup spot to win.
“It was entirely disappointing,” Rickstrom said.
The ’Jacks played much better in a 5-2 win against Central-Denfeld on Sept. 28. Collier, Ellena and Kristen Chalich swept the top three singles spots while Fritsinger and Shevich won at second doubles and Jezierski and Campbell took the third doubles match.
“It was an odd match,” Rickstrom said. “I spent my day convincing myself we were going to lose 5-2 but when it was all over we had won by the same score.”
The team received an excellent test in a 4-3 non-conference loss to Crosby-Ironton, a new addition to the schedule.
“It was nice to play them since we lost a Duluth school,” Rickstrom said. “We were balanced equally. Usually when we play we either win 6-1 or lose 7-0 but Crosby-Ironton is a mirror image of ourselves. I wish we could play them every year.”
Collier and Ellena won at first and second singles against the Rangers while Campbell and Alysssa Acheson won at third doubles.
Tuesday the ’Jacks lost 6-1 to Aitkin in a non-conference class, and will finish its regular schedule against Duluth Marshall, with a win against the Hilltoppers sewing up second place.
“We’re going to have a very young team next year,” Rickstrom said. “We are disappointed that these players didn’t win the conference, because we’ve never had a chance to, but some teams are a bit down and that gave us a better chance. If we can get young kids to fill in next year as well as players like Alyssa Acheson, Breanne Baker and Lora Chalich have done this year, we’ll be in good shape.”