By Drew Schoenbauer – [email protected]

Despite their youth, the CSB Blazer tennis team has managed a strong start to the 2017 season.

The Blazers, currently at a 4-3 record, opened up conference play on Feb. 5 with a sweep over Concordia, winning 9-0.

That same day, the team lost a close matchup against Division II Bemidji State 4-5.

“Our season has been great so far,” senior Laura Finn said via email. “We’ve been having very productive practices and that has definitely translated into our first matches.”

First-year Tessa Rahrick was named MIAC Athlete of the Week this week after going 6-0 last weekend, winning three games in both singles and doubles.

First-year Lauren Clark agrees.

“The season has been off to a great start,” Clark said via email. “The team has a really positive dynamic and we’ve continued to gain momentum as the season progresses.”

Finn is the only senior on the team. Despite having the most experience of any player, she has had to face a lot of new experiences this year.

Head Coach Mike Engdahl and Assistant Coach Emily Heying are both in their first year of coaching for the Blazers. Not only are both of them coaches at CSB for the first time, but six of the 10 players on the Blazers’ roster are first-years as well.

“It’s definitely a weird feeling being the only senior,” Finn said. “There are amazing upperclassmen on the team that I have created CSB tennis memories with, so it is great reminiscing about past spring break trips and seasons. There are a lot of bittersweet moments and I am definitely preparing for the tears that are to come after my last match and graduation.”

Clark has had to face her own set of new experiences as a first-year, but has had plenty of help from her older teammates.

“One of the biggest challenges personally has been adjusting to playing on a new team,” Clark said. “The upperclassmen have been extremely welcoming though and have made the adjustment as smooth as possible.”

Even though she’s had to make an adjustment to this new team and level of competition, Clark, as well as the other first-years on the team, have all shown a lot of promise in their first season as Blazers.

“The first-years are amazing this year,” Finn said. “They immediately came out with a passion for the game in the fall and that has definitely been the case so far this season. I have enjoyed getting to know all of them and I’m excited to follow their seasons after graduation to see where they take this program.”

Both Clark and Finn believe the 2017 season could boast a positive finish.

“Our team has a lot of potential, so I believe we can make it up the MIAC rankings and impress a lot of people this season,” Finn said. “With the practices we’ve been having, I think we are going to have a strong spring season.”

“The team spent a lot of time at the beginning of the season putting together goals,” Clark said. “We are working towards making an appearance in the MIAC tournament and being proud of the team we play for.”

The Blazers’ next match will be against North Central University at 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 11 in Sartell.