CEC savors victory over HIbbing, falls to HermantownOn Tuesday, the day before classes began, the ’Jacks lost 5-2 at home to Hermantown to fall to 4-5 on the season, but Coach Steve Rickstrom was thrilled with the team’s first victory over Hibbing in at least 15 years, a very satisfying 4-3 road win last Tuesday, Aug. 27.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
It’s a bit hard to believe, but without the players on the team having a day in the classroom yet, the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls tennis team is already halfway through its season.
On Tuesday, the day before classes began, the ’Jacks lost 5-2 at home to Hermantown to fall to 4-5 on the season, but Coach Steve Rickstrom was philosophical.
“We were shorthanded,” he said. “Rachel Collier has tendinitis in a wrist and rather than force the issue, we gave her the night off. It probably would have been 4-3 with her in there but the kids are doing just fine. We’re struggling a bit in doubles though and that is something we would like to fix.”
Breanne Baker had a convincing 6-2, 6-1 win at first singles, with the second doubles team of Arica Sheff and Katelyn Litke winning 7-5, 7-5.
“We’re getting good output from our seniors, especially Baker, Litke and Sheff,” Rickstrom said. “We’re waiting for No. 1 doubles to turn the corner.”
Rickstrom is happy with his team’s progress.
“It seems like only limited times where we have had the entire team together, so for us to be at 4-5 and thinking we might have won tonight with a full roster, I’m pleased.”
Even more pleasing was the team’s first victory over Hibbing in at least 15 years, a very satisfying 4-3 road win last Tuesday, Aug. 27.
Collier and Rosalie Lundquist won at second and fourth singles, respectively, and the ’Jacks also took two of the three doubles matches to win the event. Litke and Sheff won at No. 2 and Courtney Ketola and Hailey Martin won 6-0, 6-1 at third doubles for the fourth team point.
“That was the best win,” Rickstrom said. “It felt good beating Hibbing. It might have even been more than 15 years, back to when Dave Burgett was coaching the team. We came away from that match with a 4-3 win but really thinking it could have been 6-1.”
“We also beat St. Francis after a long bus ride and that was great, but Hibbing was the best win of the year because it had been such a long time since we had beaten them.”
The team has also taken advantage of a stretch of ideal weather to get matches played.
“The spring was bad enough weather to last 10 years,” Rickstrom said. “We haven’t even lost a practice for the girls, or had to cancel anything.”
That means more court time for the team, especially for its younger members. With a large group of seniors set to graduate this year, that means the future is more important than ever.
“We have a girl from our beginner group who may play a varsity match before the end of the year,” Rickstrom said.
The coach noted that freshman Lindsey Lamirande has shown steady improvement from the start of practices — Lamirande made the switch from soccer this season — and may well crack the starting lineup before the season ends.
“She’s probably the biggest surprise to come from the beginner group and she isn’t far from the point where I feel confident she will perform well if she plays and keeps improving,” Rickstrom said. “With five of our regular starters graduating, we are coming up with a list of names who could fill the spot and hers came up.”
The other young players also got a chance to show their stuff in a unique practice match.
“Since we don’t have a junior varsity, we asked East to send some young players to take on our beginners and they jumped at it,” Rickstrom said. “We played them for three to four hours and it worked out very well for both teams. We hope to make it a yearly kind of thing.”