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’Jacks learn on the go

Winston Churchill is reported to once have said, "I love learning, but I do not always enjoy being taught." The learning process continued for the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls tennis team on Monday, with a 7-0 loss against an excellent Grand Rapids...

Winston Churchill is reported to once have said, “I love learning, but I do not always enjoy being taught.”

The learning process continued for the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls tennis team on Monday, with a 7-0 loss against an excellent Grand Rapids team that, while painful, might pay dividends down the road.

“Grand Rapids is always an excellent team,” CEC coach Derek Johnson said. “We played hard but they are good and they beat us.”

Johnson had praise for No. 1 singles player Rose Lundquist, who lost 6-7 (4-7), 3-6 to Megan Duiong.

“Rose always plays Megan tough but has never been able to come out with a win,” Johnson said. “They went to a first-set tiebreaker but some unforced errors hurt in that part of the match and she couldn’t come out with a win.”

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Michelle Jokinen, Autumn Moynan and Erin Genereau were the other singles players on Monday while the doubles teams consisted of Ally Martin and Lindsey Lamirande, Bijou Towne and Morgan Granda, and Zoe Klimek and Nicole Blatchford.

CEC (2-9) then saw its scheduled Tuesday match with Superior postponed when a late-afternoon rain squall raced through town, rendering the courts unplayable. Johnson said a makeup date will hopefully be set soon.

In the meantime, the goal is to practice, practice, practice, to give the younger players the repetitions they need to become successful.

“So much of it at this age is just doing things over and over again, ground strokes and building muscle memory so they can hit the shots they need to keep rallies going,” Johnson explained.

Some of the problems young teams have revolve around impatience, an issue Johnson has noticed with his young ’Jacks.

“Kids want to win the point quickly and play a power game because that’s what they see the stars do,” he said. “But at this level, so much of success involves being patient, keeping the ball in play and waiting for the opponent person to make a mistake.”

Johnson said he can see impatience in the players’ play at times.

“We hit the ball too hard, we hit it too long because we are looking to hit a winner rather than stay in the point and it isn’t time to go for that winning shot,” he said. “Part of learning the game is learning when you have the opportunity to take the shot which can win you the point. It’s also difficult in doubles, when you have to learn the strategies of playing with two.”

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Until those lessons are learned, players will make elementary mistakes. “Sometimes players get caught in the ‘no man’s land’ between the baseline and the net and they wind up having to try to play balls hit at their feet,” he said. “Those half-volleys can be very difficult shots and we need to learn to stay away from those situations.”

And, although being taught is no fun, Johnson said his players are learning the right lessons.

“Each day I ask the kids what they could do better rather than just telling them,” Johnson said. “They are coming up with the right answers on their own so that’s encouraging. They will figure things out and then things should be better for them.”

Related Topics: GIRLS TENNIS
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