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Tennis preview: CEC swings into season schedule

Junior Lauren Maslowski returns to the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton tennis team this season for her second year playing the sport. Pine Journal file

The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls tennis team started practice Monday, Aug. 13, but will have only one week before they begin a busy schedule that includes three matches in one day.

"Next week we are busy," fourth-year coach Derek Johnson said. "We open with three matches on Monday in Mora, then we play a match on Tuesday, two matches on Thursday and three more matches on Saturday."

That means the young 'Jacks will play nine matches over a six-day period as they jump into the proverbial frying pan right from the start.

"Monday was our first practice and it went well," Johnson said. "We have a lot of inexperienced girls, so we will practice the basics a lot until we are comfortable."

CEC will have to overcome the loss of their No. 1 doubles team, Ally Martin and McKayla Borske, who were both named to the Lake Superior All-Conference team a year ago.

"Those two will be missed," Johnson remarked. "Michelle Jokinen, who played No. 1 singles for us last season as a 10th-grader, is back and she now knows what it's like to play against other opponents' best player day in and day out."

Also returning for the 'Jacks are Lexi Norrgard and Lauren Maslowski, who played No. 3 doubles a year ago and will now move into a larger role by playing No. 1 doubles. Johnson also said the duo may end up playing some singles events since they have become more consistent with their game.

Included in the returning players is Kylie McKeon, who played No. 4 singles and will now be moved up into the No. 3 singles role, with a chance of also playing at No. 2 singles for CEC.

"Their will definitely be first year players who will need to step into the varsity lineup right away, but as to who those kids might be is yet to be determined," Johnson said. "This year, we have a lot of players who are in their first or second year of tennis and with our schedule being filled with a lot of matches right away, we will be learning on the go."

With only one week of practice before jumping into a busy schedule, the team will need to adjust and tweak on game day.

"We won't have the practice time to work on things which inexperienced players need," Johnson said. "We will set small goals throughout the year that will help keep us focused while we improve our game."

The first week has been hectic for Johnson because some of his players are still wrapping up their summer vacations and have not been to their first practice, and with 15 players, he is looking to add more players on the roster.

"It is a really fun sport," Johnson said. "I encourage anyone who is thinking of joining to still come out and play."