By Megan Dierberger – [email protected]
The CSB tennis team has had bumpy 2016-17 season. Their overall record is 8-7 and their conference record is 1-2, putting them in sixth in the MIAC out of 11 teams.
The Blazers are young with a team consisting of six first years, one sophomore, two juniors and one senior.
Laura Finn, the only senior and All-MIAC athlete, sees this new team dynamic as a great opportunity despite the fact that she is the only senior on the team. Finn uses her years of experience to help her teammates and take on a new role as a leader.
“Through many years of playing and my education at CSB/SJU, I think I have truly learned the importance of respect and sportsmanship when it comes to competition,” Finn said.
Tessa Rahrick, a first-year who was named MIAC Athlete of the Week on Feb. 7, has also made a positive impact on this year’s team. Rahrick plays No. 2 singles and plays No. 1 doubles with Finn.
“Even though we have a young team and a new coach, I feel like we have a strong team, and even though we may not have the experience, we still have the energy and the determination,” Rahrick said.
Head Coach Michael Engdahl helps his team maintain their energy and determination despite the outcome of each match. This season is Engdahl’s first at St. Ben’s after coaching at the Division I level in South Dakota for seven years. He has helped the team progress each match and ensures their mentality is where it is supposed to be during matches.
As the Blazers look ahead at the competition, Gustavus and Carleton seem to be their biggest challenge in the conference. They have both been in the top three of the MIAC since 1982.
“We’ve started playing tougher teams, but have been rising up and playing really well against them,” Rahrick said. “Even if the score doesn’t always show it, all of our matches have been really close.”
Finn and Rahrick have a 6-3 record at No. 1 doubles this season. Their competitiveness and athleticism helps them get through the highs and lows of a doubles match.
“I like the dynamics of playing with a first-year because that is how it was for me when I started playing for the Blazers,” Finn said. “She is a talented player and our strengths definitely complement one another on the court.”
The young but determined team is looking to place fourth in the MIAC by the end of the season. The Blazers will face St. Olaf at 4 p.m. on Friday, March 31 at the CSB tennis courts.