CEC girls earn first win of seasonAfter a rough reception at its season-opening tournament in Mora, the CEC girls tennis team found its form with a 5-2 win over Superior on Tuesday night to start its conference season on the right foot.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
After a rough reception at its season-opening tournament in Mora, the CEC girls tennis team found its form with a 5-2 win over Superior on Tuesday night to start its conference season on the right foot.
“I think we needed a win after going 0-3 [at Mora],” Coach Steve Rickstrom said. “It seems like we beat Superior every year but they are a bigger school with more kids to choose from. Eventually they will beat us but I’m glad it wasn’t [Tuesday].”
The team looks different after the departure of last year’s foreign exchange whizzes Victoria Mourinho and Dana Hartmann. However, Rickstrom said that will allow this year’s team to show off its depth.
“We relied on the exchange students to get us points at first and second singles,” Rickstrom explained. “This year we’re counting on third and fourth singles and our doubles. We have some depth.”
This year, the first singles position is held by senior Reilly Kedrowski, who outlasted Superior’s Cassie Hanson 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to earn a point but dug deep in the third set for the win.
With the score tied at 4-4, Kedrowski trailed Hanson 40-love while receiving service but rallied to win the game, breaking Hanson’s serve and then serving out the match herself.
“On our team we call that a ‘Krajicek,’” Rickstrom said, naming the former Dutch men’s tennis ace who once completely turned around a match at Wimbledon by performing the same feat.
Other CEC singles winners included Breanne Baker and freshman Rachel Collier at third and fourth singles, both of whom won in straight sets.
In doubles, the number two team of Katrina Smith and Arica Sheff won their match, as did Courtney Ketola and Rosalie Lundquist. Those wins were also in straight sets.
Rickstrom said a number of young players are making bids to start on the varsity.
“It was great last year, because everyone got to play where they belonged and got the experience they needed, but this year we are relying on the depth we developed,” Rickstrom said.
“We have over 30 players out for the team,” Rickstrom added. “We have three seniors and six juniors, but we had an eighth-grader and two freshmen in the lineup against Superior. We do have a lot of kids in the wings.”
Kedrowski and Alyssa Acheson are the seniors who played against Superior and the program is buoyed by the return of Collier, who played last season at Hermantown but who moved back into the district this year.
“She is a very consistent player and that’s a key at number four singles,” Rickstrom said. “She doesn’t have Reilly’s power but at four singles, keeping the ball in play is key. That helps you win.”
The season started with a bit of a rough ride at the Mora tournament.
Cloquet lost 5-2 to Aitkin, with all matches being a ‘first to 10 games’ format.
Collier and Lundquist won at third and fourth singles. The two also won their matches against Mora in a 5-2 setback, with Collier winning all 10 games she played against Mora’s Erin Jones.
The team’s third match was a 6-1 loss to St. Cloud Cathedral.
Sheff and Abby Wangen earned CEC’s team point at third doubles with a 10-5 win in their match.
However, Collier and Lundquist both won medals for their singles play, each finishing 2-1 on the day.
“We also got a great performance from Katrina Smith in all her matches and Abby Wangen is chomping at the bit to start,” Rickstrom said. “Depth is not an issue. It’s actually going to be our strength.”