GLADSTONE — Fall sports are officially back in the U.P.
It’s been a long time since any high school sports have been played due to the coronavirus pandemic, but girls tennis season got underway Thursday in Gladstone with the Braves hosting the Marquette Redettes.
The talented Redettes started their season with a 8-0 sweep, dropping just one set in No. 4 doubles.
“The first match of the year is always tough,” Braves coach Ryan Barron said. “The girls always come out so tense and they end up with many unforced errors. Those will definitely decrease throughout the year.”
Both teams lost a strong group of seniors to graduation, so there were new players playing different positions all over the court.
“Half of my squad today has never played a match at the varsity level,” Barron said. “I see lots of promise with this group of girls. They are working hard in practice and they utilize any advice they can. They are always trying to improve.”
Redettes coach Derek Sandstrom saw the same thing.
“I saw a lot of jitters. We lost our No. 1 and No. 2 singles, all of our No. 1 doubles and half of our No. 2 doubles, so everybody moved up two spots in most cases,” he said. “Some girls had their first look at singles coming from over doubles, and that was interesting for them. There were just a lot of nerves. … Sometimes in practice you see certain things in drills that you don’t when you start a match, so it’s nice that we have a whole bunch of things we can work on in practice.”
Despite the victory, Sandstrom was just happy to see the girs playing again.
“It’s just good to be playing tennis with all the COVID mess going on. It’s just nice to see the kids smiling and playing,” he said. “We both have developing teams. What it looks like now will probably be different in September.”
One of the more competitive matches of the day came at No. 1 singles, as Marquette’s Campbell Kallio took down Gladstone’s Alaina Trudeau, 6-2, 6-3. Both players moved up to No. 1 this season.
“For the first match of the year, I think I did good,” Trudeau said. “I now know what I need to work on as the season goes on. It felt good to finally be a part of sports again.”
Sandstrom felt both players performed well.
“I thought their girl played really well and I thought Campbell played really well,” he said. “It’s a new game when you are playing somebody else’s best player all the time, so moving No. 3 singles to No. 1 singles is a jump even though it’s only two spots.”
Marquette rolled in the rest of the singles matches, as Haddie Ketzenberger won 6-1, 6-1 over Rachel Krouth at No. 2; Ruth Hummell took down Addison Trombley 6-2, 6-1 at No. 3; and Julliana Golisek swept Megan Robinson in straight sets at No. 4.
“It is great to be back playing sports with my friends,” Robinson said. “This was my first tennis match, but it was a lot of fun and I loved the energy both teams gave off.”
Marquette also swept doubles, with Zoey Brian and Bre Sandstrom winning 6-1, 7-5 over Marnnea LaFave and Chloe Charlebois at No. 1; Alyson LaBelle and Hannah Young defeating Emma Wagner and Alesha Marenger 6-4, 6-1 at No. 2; and Elina Brazeau and Kaia Miller picking up a 6-3, 6-4 win over Montgomery Pepin and Maggie Buckley at No. 3.
“Though we had lost today against Marquette, Alesha and I had some really good returns and had good communication,” Wagner said. “We both are looking forward to playing Marquette again later this season.”
The tandem of Lahna Castor and Sophia Rosa picked up Gladstone’s lone set win in No. 4 doubles, but Marquette’s Nistha Gautam and Sam Heikkila still picked up the victory 7-6 (7-3), 5-7, 7-6 (7-5).
Gladstone hosts Escanaba Monday, while Marquette hosts Kingsford.
No. 1 — Kallio, M, def. Trudeau, G, 6-2, 6-3; No. 2 — Ketzenberger, M, def. Krouth, G, 6-1, 6-1; No. 3 — Hummell, M, def. Trombley, G, 6-2, 6-1; No. 4 — Golisek, M, def. Robinson, G, 6-0, 6-0.
No. 1 — Brian-Sandstrom, M, def. LaFave-Charlebois, G, 6-1, 7-5; No. 2 — LaBelle-Young, M, def. Wagner-Marenger, G, 6-4, 6-1; No. 3 Brazeau-Miller, M, def. Pepin-Buckley, G, 6-3, 6-4; No. 4 — Gautam-Heikkila, M, def. Castor-Rosa, G, 7-6 (7-3), 5-7, 7-6 (7-5).
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