Tennis team improves with experience
The road has been long and tough for the young Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls tennis team this fall, but there's something to celebrate every day. The team has only won twice this fall but coaches find positives every day for the young Lumberjacks pl...
The road has been long and tough for the young Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls tennis team this fall, but there’s something to celebrate every day.
The team has only won twice this fall but coaches find positives every day for the young Lumberjacks players to use as they improve.
“You need that,” co-coach Derek Johnson said. “The girls like the enthusiasm and it’s good to help keep their energy up.”
Johnson and co-coach Steve Rickstrom find something every day. And while the small victories aren’t necessarily leading to team wins, the players are improving.
“We have to grind it out,” Johnson said. “Right now the girls are learning some tough lessons but when we can go back to them in practice and tell them they’re serving better or playing better overall, it does help.”
On Tuesday, the ’Jacks lost a 5-2 decision at home to Crosby-Ironton, with both wins coming in doubles. Abbey Wangen and Courtney Ketola won in straight sets at first doubles, Lexi Robideaux and Hailey Martin survived losing their first set 6-0 to come back to win in three sets at second doubles.
“We hung tough there,” Johnson said. “Third doubles (Annika Hammitt and Courtney Beaupre) was close, too, but the singles, well, we didn’t do so hot there.”
The team also fell 5-2 at Duluth Marshall on Monday. Lindsey Lamirande was a straight-set winner at fourth singles for CEC while Wangen and Ketola won at first doubles in three sets.
Johnson has been easing into coaching the team with Rickstrom leaving the girls program after the season.
“It’s a change; it’s a good change, and I’m liking it,” Johnson said. “Steve is having me make lineup decisions, and it isn’t too stressful since we have a set varsity lineup which is the same almost every single match.”
Johnson said Beaupre has stepped up following an injury to another player earlier in the season.
“She has done a nice job with Annika at third doubles and filled in very well,” he said. “But we have a lot of younger players who aren’t ready for varsity consideration yet.”
With section playoffs coming in just two weeks, Johnson said practice time is needed but with all the matches in recent days and rainfall washing out court time, it has been a challenge.
“That’s a bummer,” he said. “We need to get into a good hitting routine and get positive because we’ve had some losses lately. We have to get our matches in though, before the weather gets bad, so we’re kind of in a hurry.”