2010-08-26 / Sports

Young Cardinal tennis team competes in tourney

The young and darker shade of green Cardinals took another step in their thousand mile journey in the right direction with overall solid play at the prestigious Pine City Invitational this past Monday going up against the state’s class A favorites. Most players went two and one on the day, but all performed at a high level against great competition.

“I’m excited and proud at how we are competing against strong teams with where we are at. Our schedule early in the year is very challenging, especially for how green we are,” said Coach Kevin Coughlin. “I am hoping we are on a healthy process of getting riper with each experience.”

The Cards are coming off a three team scrimmage with class AA strengths Elk River, Brainerd and Hibbing where, in the first week such competition clearly lets you know where you are and what you need to do to get where you want to go.

At one singles,ninth grade Mikayla Wing battled with high performance fashion against great players, but came up a bit short going one and two on the day.

“We are not concerned about the outcome of victory and defeat right now,” Coughlin said. “Of course we are always playing to win, but the process of putting our whole game together is our focus and Mikayla is showing with beautiful poise the patience and focus to stay on the course of getting better to meet the challenges of competing at this level.”

Mikayla came back and finished the day with a victory.

“We all need to remember that Mikayla, like the rest of the team, is young and she has moved from four singles last year to one this year as a ninth grader. There is no doubt in my mind that she will grow and develop rapidly,” Coughlin said.

Andrea Koskiniemi showed her experience and maturity battling a variety of styles at two singles. Finishing 2-1 on the day resulting in a third place finish was a strong statement for the senior.

“Andrea proved to herself that she has what it takes to execute from anywhere against any type of player. Like anyone else, she needs to stay focused on doing it on a consistent basis to find the success she has her eyes on,” Coughlin noted.

Abby Smith had an outstanding day at three singles proving to herself that she is a genuine player with the grit to play at this level.

“Abby is a classic example of a player who, when she stays focused on the process of doing your best, having fun doing it, and staying positive, will learngreat things will happen and you will have a thrill along the way of this ride,” said Coughlin.

Kelsey Zetah also showed great promise at four singles grinding matches out to fight through a couple of three set contests on top.

elsey is one of many examples of players on this team who are on the path to greatness, because of their positive energy and willingness to learn while playing hard,” noted Coughlin. “We just need to refine her groundstrokes and look out.”

Three time state tournament doubles participant Emma Koskiniemi led partner Maggie O’Keefe to a 2-1 consolation championship with solid rock and roll close in on the net style doubles.

“Emma definitely showed her experience, but Maggie proved that the chain in this doubles combo was strong by playing right with the veteran,” Coughling said. “It’s apparent that Maggie has what it takes to play at this level, it’s just going to take some time and experience to refi ne the unlimited level of greatness and the consistency that solidifies it.”

Senior captain Hallie Olsen and partner Karlee Haglin fought through three matches without a victory at two doubles, but made strides to prove that they are capable of playing two doubles level tennis.

“After graduating seven seniors last year (five of the six doubles players on a team that was consolation state champions) we are challenged to have players like Hallie and Karlee make a fairly large step from the bench to a prime time spot,” observed Coughlin. “It is our hope that they, like everyone else on the team takes ownership for that responsibility and opportunity to continually improve every part of their game. I have complete confidence in them, but they need to develop it in their own minds through action.”

Annie Kautto and Brooke Wolhowe merged together their sophomore connection at three doubles riding a few up and down roller coaster three setters in matches against

traditional powerhouses.

Like the rest of the team, “Annie and Brooke exemplify

our potential talent and good vibrations, as well as our on court IQ,” Coughlin said. “It just needs time and experience to flower into something big and beautiful that this team and its individuals are capable of becoming.”

As a team, the Cards finished in a respectful fifth place right behind the leaders in a fairly even field of teams. No team proved to be dominant which goes to show that in the end it is anyone’s game.

“We just need to stay on course of keeping our focus on ourselves using this tournament as a barometer of sorts to see where we compare. It’s clear that we are right there, but we need to take ownership of where we are going

and how we are going to

get there,” said Coughlin. “For the most part it’s little

things and how we string them together on this challenging, but hopeful joyous journey. The culture of the team with its good vibrations will likely pave the way to something great.”

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