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CEC boys seize the opportunity to play outside again

After another long wait, the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys tennis team is back on the court and -- more importantly -- practicing outdoors again. "We had our first warm weather practice on Tuesday, and that felt good," Coach Steve Rickstrom said. "Th...

Ben Tomhave
Junior Ben Tomhave of Cloquet-Esko-Carlton serves at No. 3 singles Monday, falling to Scotty Perunovich of Hibbing 6-6, 6-0. The Lumberjacks fell 4-3 to the Bluejackets. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal

After another long wait, the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys tennis team is back on the court and -- more importantly -- practicing outdoors again.

"We had our first warm weather practice on Tuesday, and that felt good," Coach Steve Rickstrom said. "Three weeks ago we had four practices outside and it was so cold you could hardly stand it, but thank God we got those in. Three blizzards later, we're finally back outside again."

Between blizzards and melts, the team played four matches. The first was a 7-0 loss against Duluth East on April 22 in Duluth, followed up by a 4-3 loss at Grand Rapids on April 26 in which all matches were shortened due to wet courts.

The Thunderhawks won all four singles matches while the 'Jacks won all three doubles matches. Robbie Sobczak and Ryan Willgohs won at first doubles, Joey Gotchnik and Ryan Lind won at second doubles and Josh Keith and John Frosig won at No. 4.

The team picked up its first wins of the season on April 27 in a tournament at Cambridge. The 'Jacks beat the Bluejackets 6-1 in the first match of the day. Sean Kedrowski, Christian Pritchett, Lind and Gotchnik swept the singles, with Kedrowski particularly impressive in a 6-0, 6-1 win at No. 1 singles over Destin Medona.

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Willgohs and Sobczak joined the second doubles team of Anders Pertler and Ben Tomhave as doubles winners.

The second match of the day was a 7-0 sweep of North Branch Area.

The same four singles players swept their matches, with all four winning at least one set by a 6-0 score. Pritchett didn't lose a game in winning 6-0, 6-0 over the Vikings' Tim Cartwright.

The doubles teams were also very effective against North Branch, with Willgohs and Sobczak also winning their first doubles match 6-0, 6-0. Pertler and Tomhave played a perfect set as well, with Frosig and Keith also easily winning at No. 3.

But the players, for now, are just happy to be outdoors again.

"The kids are playing good considering that we have moved 80 tons of snow and haven't hit 80 tennis balls," Rickstrom said. "It's good that we have a lot of returning players because their workup isn't quite as long as for new players."

"There's rust for sure," Rickstrom added. "There's a lot of bad mood about a lot of the spring sports because the weather has been so awful. In about every sport, kids and coaches are crabby and it's all weather related.

"Growing up here, this is by far the worst weather in terms of snow that I've ever seen. The baseball and softball players I see in class aren't having fun yet and it's wrecking the spring season for all the seniors. So for us to get outside is a release."

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Related Topics: TENNIS
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