April 21, 2024

MACA/WCA girls tennis returns core, opens 2021 season this weekend

Kassidy Girard

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BY BROOKE KERN

Sports reporter

The Morris Area / Chokio-Alberta / West Central Area girls tennis team returns the core of its lineup this fall after graduating four seniors with the Class of 2021. The Tigers will look to that leadership to improve upon an 8-5 record the team posted in 2020.

“This season we are looking forward to our returning eight seniors. Our team will have a ton of experience and leadership on the courts,” Tiger coach Britney House said.

Top returning singles players from last season include Abbigail Athey and Kassidy Girard, who both combined for 15 wins last season at the No. 1 and No. 3 spot, respectively. Lakia Manska and Breanna Schmidgall are two of the top returning doubles players. Though never playing together, the two recorded seven doubles wins each in 2020.

Just because they are top returners from last season does not mean that’s where they will be playing come the season opener on Friday. There is a lot more that goes into a lineup, House said.

“The lineup is always variable and since we lost doubles players, some of the singles players from last year may be moved to doubles. We also have some injuries that will be taken into consideration when planning the lineup. Many of the girls are of equal ability so sometimes player compatibility and mental resilience is taken into account. If girls have put time in during the off season, that may have helped them improve their skills and physical fitness, which could help them possibly move up the lineup,” House said.

Other returning seniors include Kjersten Nibbe, Kylie Mau, Tasha Koehl, and Hope Sperr. All have some varsity experience from last season. Nibbe had seven total wins with two different doubles partners and Koehl and Sperr played both singles and doubles at various points last season.

“The girls have been hard at work this summer on the courts. They came to meet ups, tournaments, and camps. This extra work in the summer really pays off because our season is so short and we have met the first week of practice. Girls need to be ready to be competitive that first week. We play some tough teams that make it to the state tournaments. Hopefully this year, we will be able to have a regular end of the season competition,” House said.

As of right now, there are no special restrictions due to COVID-19 except the mask wearing on the bus, House said.

In relation to the pandemic, the tennis courts were supposed to be resurfaced, but due to the hired company being so short-staffed, that project was unable to be completed this year. House hopes that courts will get resurfaced next summer. She is also working with the city, school, UMN Morris, and community education on getting two more courts added to the current five-court location between the bus garage and the Stevens County DAC.

“This summer I have seen so many families, adults, and kids out on the courts playing. This will be a great investment for the community,” House said of adding more courts.

The Tigers open the season at Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa Friday, Aug. 24 and host a triangular Saturday, Aug. 21, in Morris. On Saturday, the Tigers will play Luverne at noon and Pipestone at 2 p.m on the courts next to the Stevens County DAC in Morris.

Brooke Kern
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