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Youthful CSB Tennis ready to exceed expectations

The CSB Tennis team is beginning their season with a lot of potential and youth, with an emphasis on the latter.

After graduating three key seniors last year, the Blazers return just one junior and three sophomores, with five new first years expected to close out the roster.

“There is a whole new dynamic on the team this year that is great,” junior Jamie Hoffman said. “Everyone contributes as an important part to our team which makes us capable of success this year. We have some strong freshmen who can hit with the best of them, and we are so lucky to have returning sophomores back to contribute leadership.”

CSB kicked off the season with two non-conference matches, both of which they won decisively, including a 9-0 sweep over Sioux Falls (S.D.).

“The season has started out well,” sophomore Ellie Black said. “Now it’s time to buckle down and achieve our goals. We all have personal goals, and we help each other achieve them by pushing each other at practice and making each of us better players.”

The Blazers’ conference schedule, however, did not get off to such a good start as they ran into a tough St. Kate’s team in their MIAC opener. They were defeated 8-1.

“St. Kate’s has a really good team this year, so they were tough competition,” first-year Victoria Beach said. “It was our first conference match, and we were able to gauge how tough competition is going to be this year. A couple of the singles matches were close and could easily turn into wins next time. Our volleys during doubles could have been improved and perhaps that would have won us a few more matches.”

“I thought we competed very well,” head coach Scott Larsen said. “We made them earn their singles points against us. We need to improve our doubles play in the areas of being more aggressive at the net and putting shots away when we have the opportunity. We will work on returning better and adjusting to the pace of play that we will see in the MIAC.”

With such a young team, the potential for CSB Tennis is high. However, the team will need to progress quickly in order to attain short-term results.

“There is no question that we will have some bumps along the way this year as our players become familiar with the high level of play that is typical of the MIAC,” Larsen added, “but we have an extremely talented and smart group of women. I think that we will surprise some teams this year that might be looking past us after graduating so many players last year.”

The Blazers take on Bethel at 4:30 p.m. on March 8 at the Fitness Evolution Center in Sartell, the team’s home court. They also host Macalester the following day at 1 p.m.