Prep girls tennis: Summer work and ‘positive attitude’ fuel CEC, Dostal’s run

The Lumberjacks have a senior-heavy team whose offseason work is paying off this fall, according to coach Derek Johnson.

Cloquet’s Marina Dostal chases down a ball during her match with Superior’s Sydney Friedrich at No. 1 singles Monday afternoon, Sept. 13, 2021, in Cloquet. Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Cloquet-Esko-Carlton senior Marina Dostal has taken some lumps during her time on the tennis team.

As a freshman three years ago, she went winless, and in 2020 she was 3-10 playing in the No. 1 singles position.

At the same spot in 2021, though, Dostal is 10-3, and the Lumberjacks have an identical record as a team. Lumberjacks coach Derek Johnson said Dostal has worked in the offseason to improve her game and develop into a strong player at the No. 1 spot.

“Last year, going into the season we weren’t really sure who was going to be our No. 1,” Johnson said. “Marina wanted it, she wanted to face the best player on everyone’s team and she worked for it. She took a beating last year and now she’s playing really well.”

In two matches this week, Dostal dropped just three games, defeating Superior’s Sydney Friedrich 6-1, 6-0 and Duluth Denfeld’s Kaitlyn McMillan 6-2, 6-0.


Cloquet’s Marina Dostal hits a forehand return during her match with Superior’s Sydney Friedrich at No. 1 singles Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Cloquet. Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“A big thing for me has always been my mental game and just keeping a positive attitude during my matches because so much can happen,” Dostal said. “One thing I think I’ve been pretty good at this year has been my consistency during matches. I struggled with that last year, and I worked on it this summer and during practice and I think I’ve gotten better.”

Dostal said she and No. 2 singles player Winnie Benjamin-Hall spent time playing over the summer and attending tennis camps at Wisconsin-Superior.

Cloquet’s Winnie Benjamin-Hall returns a shot during her match with Superior’s Paige Sanders at No. 2 singles Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Cloquet. Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Benjamin-Hall has posted a better record than Dostal at 11-2 and Dana Jones — who didn’t play a single varsity match in 2020 — has an identical record floating between the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles position.

“We knew going in that we were going to have a lot of seniors,” Johnson said. “That’s awesome because they’ve put in the work this summer. In girls tennis, you can have a strong season if your girls pick up their racket during the summer. Then they’re ready to go — when we start the season in August, we already have a head start from the girls that don’t touch their racket all summer.”


The Lumberjacks are next scheduled to host Eveleth-Gilbert at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 16.

Cloquet-Esko-Carlton 6, Superior 1

Singles — Marina Dostal, CEC, def. Sydney Friedrich, 6-1, 6-0; Winnie Benjamin-Hall, CEC, def. Paige Sanders, 6-0, 6-0; Callie Holmland, S, def. Lydia Stone, 7-6 (5), 6-3; Alexis Goranson, CEC, def. Lexi Johnsen, 2-6, 6-2, 6-0.

Doubles — Brynn Martin/Jayden Karppinen, CEC, def. Emma Sislo/Brooke Hendry, 6-3, 6-1; Carlee Maslowski/Addie Loeb, CEC, def. Tatum William/Mollie Rossing, 7-5, 6-3; Bella Harriman/Dana Jones, CEC, def. Mattie Schilling/Greta Clark, 6-0, 6-4.

Cloquet-Esko-Carlton 7, Duluth Denfeld 0

Singles — Marina Dostal, CEC, def. Kaitlyn MacMillan, 6-2, 6-0; Winnie Benjamin-Hall, CEC, def. Madi Watts, 6-4, 6-3; Addie Loeb, CEC, def. Mercedes Floerke, DD, 6-2, 6-0; Alexis Goranson, CEC, def. Zaidea Kinziger, 6-1, 6-2.

Doubles — Brynn Martin/Jayden Karppinen, CEC, def. Ava Borham/Lydia Saxin, 6-1, 6-0; Dana Jones/Carlee Maslowski, CEC, def. Grace Schiltz/Gracen Watts, 6-1, 6-3; Araya Kiminski/Frankie Halverson, CEC, def. Lauren Scott/Sierra Boitz, 6-1, 6-2.

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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