CEC tennis gives Central a good test in team playoffs
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
For Cloquet-Esko-Carlton tennis coach Steve Rickstrom, the glass is half full.
Despite a difficult 4-3 loss to Duluth Central in the first round of the section playoffs on Monday, the ’Jacks came a long way.
“It was a tough one to swallow,” Rickstrom said. “After they beat us 5-2 and 7-0 earlier in the year, I’m proud of the guys to have a chance to win. We played really well. We had a good day.”
CEC’s John Scheuer beat Central’s Cory Bolen 7-6, 6-4 at second singles and freshman Ryan Lind defeated Brenden Johnson 6-3, 7-6 at number four. The young team of Christian Pritchett and Ryan Willgohs defeated Jordan Rock and Matt Skurich 6-4, 6-3 at third doubles but CEC couldn’t find that elusive fourth team win.
“There’s always that woulda-coulda-shoulda kind of thing,” Rickstrom said. “It was the first time all season we had our top 10 players on the court at the same time. To watch Ryan and Christian beat up on a couple of 12th-graders was nice, and to have John Scheuer play as well as he has ever played for Cloquet is good.”
Josiah Sickler and Camron Hallfrisch lost in three sets at second doubles and Tanner Webster lost a tie-break at third singles.
“If Tanner wins that second-set tie breaker I’m pretty sure he wins the third set,” Rickstrom said. “Joe and Camron had a chance to win their second set. There were a lot of what-ifs. But, we were real close and haven’t been close to those guys all year. That effort was outstanding.”
CEC finished the regular season with wins in two of their last three matches, including a fine 5-2 win over Hermantown at Cloquet and a 4-3 win against Cook County that was aided by two defaults.
“Hermantown was a nice win after they beat us the week before,” Rickstrom said. “Across the board in that first match we were pretty flat so it was a great day for us. The Cook County win was good too, even though they did play shorthanded. We’ll take defaults when we need them, though!”
Rickstrom was impressed with the play of freshman Lind.
“Ryan got down early against a big, big hitter (Justin Goldstein) and then outlasted him,” Rickstrom said. Lind lost the first set 6-0 but won the second 6-4 and then won a third set tiebreak 10-5 to take the match.
CEC also lost a 5-2 decision to a good Marshall team, with Pritchett winning at fourth singles and Sam Jorgenson teaming with Willgohs to win at third doubles.
“Marshall is good. They are really good,” Rickstrom said. “They might be able to put a lineup together to beat Virginia and get to state. They’ve got some really good players and a lot of experience at the top of the order and we can’t match that experience yet, but we are building it.”
The team loss now leaves only the individual tournament – scheduled for Thursday afternoon at Duluth Central – for several ’Jacks players. Sean Kedrowski earned the fifth seed in the singles tournament and will be joined by sophomore Luke Heine as the other singles player in the tournament.
“Luke is the unsung hero of our team,” Rickstrom said. “Wherever we have needed him, he’s played.”
Scheuer will team with Lind in doubles while Tanner Webster teams with Ryan Kedrowski as the other doubles entry.
“We’re looking to pull some upsets and move on,” Rickstrom said. “For the future, teams aren’t looking past us anymore.”