Tennis team young but athletic
This year’s Blue Earth Area Buccaneer girls tennis team is young.
How young? Over half the varsity team of 27 girls is composed of seventh and eighth graders.
Head Coach Terry Barnes had seven seniors on last year’s squad, and they formed the nucleus of his starters.
Two senior players last year, Olivia Skaare and Annika Johnson, were South Central Conference All-Conference designees.
Plus, seniors Jessica Skaare, Mackenzie Lein and Sam Hogstad were big impact players last season and will be missed.
The team will also be missing four letter-winners from last year who have decided not to come out for tennis this year.
“We are definitely a young team,” Barnes says, “but that doesn’t mean we won’t be pretty competitive.”
The Bucs will be anchored by senior Emily Slama this year, who was the Section singles champion last season.
“Our other three seniors – Jordan Hanevik, Blaire Zierke and Julia Meyer – will also be solid contributors to the team,” Barnes says. “All four will serve as our team captains this year.”
Barnes says sophomore Abby Nimz will be making the biggest step up from what she did last year to what he expects of her this season.
“She has really put in the time on the court during the off-season,” Barnes says. “She will probably move up and anchor our second singles spot.”
The Bucs have two new players which was a bit of a surprise to the coaches.
Sophomore Kelly Shortenhaus and her sister Makeila Shortenhaus, an eighth grader, are moving to Blue Earth from Rake, Iowa. They are home-schooled students, but will be members of the tennis team this year.
“They have both been playing at the Mankato Tennis Club for the past six months and will be able to contribute a lot to our team,” Barnes says. “I expect Kelly to be contending for our No. 3 singles spot.”
To read more of this story, see this week’s Register.