Netters have youth, but experience
“We’re young but we have quite a bit of experience,” Blue Earth Area girls tennis coach Terry Barnes says.
That’s because while there are sophomores and freshmen starting on varsity, they have been playing on the varsity for a year or two.
And, that doesn’t mean there isn’t upperclassmen leadership. The starting lineup includes three seniors and one junior.
Barnes says he held a week of tennis playoffs of all the players to determine the positions at which they will start the season.
Leading the way for the Buccaneers will be sophomore Karleigh Wolff at No. 1 singles for the second straight year.
“Karleigh earned her spot,” Barnes says. “She went undefeated this week in our team playoffs.”
Last year as a freshman, Wolff played several seniors from opposing schools at the top spot and won a few games.
“She has developed a few more weapons this year,” Barnes says. “She should do well.”
Buc junior Lindsey Prokop moves into the No. 2 singles position from her spot last year on the first doubles team.
“Lindsey’s improvement from last year is fantastic,” Barnes says. “No one thought last year she would be moving into No. 2 singles this season. She has shown super improvement.”
So has freshman Anikka Wilhelmi, Barnes says. She is moving up from No. 2 doubles as an eighth grader last season to the No. 3 singles position for this year.
At No. 4 singles will be Kaitlyn Olsen, a sophomore.
At No. 1 doubles will be a pair of freshmen, Karli Olsen and Natali Fellows.
A senior duo will anchor the No. 2 doubles team Abby Nimz and Aeli Olson.
At the No. 3 doubles spot will be a team composed of a senior, Autumn Drake, and a freshman, Paige Darrington.
At the first three meets of the year, a fourth doubles team is included. For the Bucs, that team will be Becca Krussow and Kali Viland. BEA started play this past Monday with a scrimmage at Belle Plaine with various teams in the section invited.
Monday night the team travels to Cannon Falls and will play three pre-season meets against various teams in one day there.
Last year Cannon Falls took eighth in State in Class A.
The Bucs posted a 9-8 record last year and sent one doubles team, seniors Camille Driscoll and Allie Curtis, to the Section Tournament.
Other seniors on the team last year were Morgan Schoenfelder, Malissa Schaeffer and exchange student Meike Rirseena.
This season Coach Barnes says he expects St. James and Waseca to be the top two teams in the conference.
“St. James is always good,” Barnes says. “When the first state rankings came out they were listed as No. 2 in Class A.”
St. Peter is always a good team, Barnes adds, although they did lose quite a few seniors off the team from last season.
Blue Earth Area, while young, should be a much improved team from last year, Barnes says.
“I hope we are very competitive in each of our matches,” Barnes says. “What I am looking for is to improve on our record from last year.”
When the Bucs start the season they will have four freshmen on the starting lineup and no seniors in the singles slots.
“Yes, we are young, extremely young,” Barnes says. “But, we are another year older (from last season).”
The coach says a great number of the players have improved from last year.
“We are much stronger from top to bottom of the order than we have been the last several years,” he says.