Coon Rapids girls’ tennis opened the season with a 2-1 mark at its own invitational on the Bob Pivec Courts Aug. 17.
The positive start is a great sign of the growing program that has 46 players. The challenge that creates is court time so coach Scott Storrick elected to run two junior varsity teams in addition to split-squad practice sessions. “So our players get the attention to improve on their strokes,” he said.
The Cardinals began the day with a 6-1 win against Cretin-Derham Hall before section foe Spring Lake Park handed the Cardinals a 5-2 loss. The day ended with a shake-up of the line-up and a 7-0 win against Hibbing.
Storrick took over the girls’ program from Mike Riha and had some definite goals for opening day.
He kept 12 players with the goal of each playing twice and earning one win apiece.
While everyone had a chance to play, Storrick discovered many players can play both singles or doubles, but he is searching for the proper doubles combinations to give the Cardinals as many team points as possible, he said.
“We have many girls that can play doubles or singles, they just need to play smart,” Storrick said.
They need to hit the first shot to the correct spot and split when the opponent hits the ball, he said.
Two underclassmen won their first varsity matches, including freshman Helen Nelson, who played with sophomore Allison Bauer at second doubles (6-2, 6-0), while sophomore Karla Westra teamed with senior Sara Brinda to win at third doubles 6-0, 6-1.
Bauer played every varsity match last season so she brings the experience level up a notch.
Storrick said all three have the skill set for their grade level and know how to win points by moving the opponent around the court. “I would say they are working on their ability to play matches and changing their game based on what their opponent is doing,” he said.
The singles group swept the Raiders highlighted by third and fourth singles players Hannah Naegele and Andrea Rehm dropping only one game each.
Against Spring Lake Park, Naegele and Rehm scored the lone Coon Rapids team points. Naegele had an intense three-set win 6-3, 4-6, 10-5 at third singles, while Rehm won in straight sets 6-1, 6-1.
Storrick shook the roster up a bit for the final match of the day, against Hibbing, sending the top two singles players, Emily Bauer and Heidi Hannula to the top doubles spot, which they won 6-1, 6-0.
Bauer will return to a singles spot but will share the No. 1 singles position with Hannula, given how close the pair are on a competitive level.
Senior Rosie Granger held down the top singles spot against Hibbing in what Storrick described as a highlight of the day, watching her come back from down 1-4 to win in straight sets 6-4, 6-0.
Senior Shelby Swoope picked up her first varsity win in fourth singles 6-0, 6-0.
“Shelby worked extremely hard this past summer, it goes to show how hard work pays off,” Storrick said.
Three days later Coon Rapids downed Rogers 4-3. The decisive team point came from Westra, who won her fourth singles match 7-6, 6-4.
Panthers hot start
After a 5-0 start to the season, Spring Lake Park took its first loss of the season Aug. 23 – a 4-3 loss to St. Michael-Albertville.
The Panthers won the Coon Rapids Invite Aug. 17 going 3-0 with wins over Coon Rapids (5-2), Hibbing (7-0) and Cretin-Derham Hall (6-1).
Those wins were followed by 5-2 wins against Osseo, Aug. 19, and Blaine, Aug. 23.
Blaine remains winless after placing fifth in the Eagle Invite in Apple Valley Aug. 20 and seventh place in the Delano/Orono Invite Aug. 22.
The two tournaments were followed by team losses against Spring Lake Park and St. Michael-Albertville, each by 5-2 scores Aug. 23.
Jason Olson is at
Jason Olson is at