CEC tennis team battles tough competitionThe Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys tennis team is finding out about life in the land of the Titans.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys tennis team is finding out about life in the land of the titans.
After a strong start to the season, the ’Jacks ran into the top three teams in the region in successive matches last week.
On April 22, CEC fell 5-2 to Duluth East, with Tanner Webster and Christian Pritchett winning at third and fourth singles, respectively.
On the 27th, Grand Rapids blitzed the ’Jacks by a 7-0 score at home, with number one singles player Sean Kedrowski coming closest to a team point in a 5-7, 3-6 loss to Austin Stefanich.
And on Monday night, Hibbing emerged 6-1 winners in another home match, with Pritchett winning at number four singles but with three other matches going to a third and deciding set.
“We are in the meat of the schedule right now,” Coach Steve Rickstrom said. “It’s been tough, but the Hibbing match had a win and three more that went three sets. We had a chance to win that match.
“It’s good for the kids, though,” he added. “It’s always good to play someone that’s good.”
Kedrowski and number two singles player John Scheuer have had their hands full in most matches this season and Rickstrom had kind words for both.
“John will play a significant amount of time at doubles, too, but he’s one of our two seniors and he guts it out like no one else,” Rickstrom said. “He’s a tough kid and I think he’ll tell you that he’s dropped a couple of matches he should have won. Mentally he is very tough.”
Kedrowski, though, draws the assignment of the other team’s top player every match.
“It’s Sean’s second year in a row playing number one singles, and that’s a tough place to play,” Rickstrom said. “Mentally he is getting stronger and he needs to be tough. He’s physically strong as an ox and he has good skills. It’s a tough place for him to be right now (at number one singles) because the best players have one more year experience on him. Hopefully we’ll have the guy to beat next year.”
The mental approach to the game is vitally important.
“Tom Proulx, we call him our team mentalist,” Rickstrom said. “He does quite a bit of counseling as the matches wear on. He’s good with the mental part of the game. Sean would like to be 7-0 right now but he’s got to be our workhorse and play the other team’s best player. We don’t have anyone else who can play like him.”
Rickstrom is also pleased with the play of Christian Pritchett, who is undefeated at number four singles this season and whose only loss came when he was moved up to number two for a singles match.
“He’s quietly putting together a nice season,” Rickstrom said.
This week the team plays perennial power Virginia and state Class-A ranked Hermantown.
“We’re getting hammered with strong competition,” Rickstrom said. “We have so many young kids, they’re going to be growing in competition no matter who they play. We’d like more ‘W’s’ on the board but you have to temper that with the competition we’ve been playing.”