Girls' Tennis: East Ridge, Park, New Life look forward to new faces and continued culture

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The 2018 girls tennis season will have many new faces for East Ridge, Park and New Life Academy.

Many players either graduated or didn't return for the upcoming fall season, which gives these coaches new players and bright futures for each program.

"I'm excited with all the new faces on the team," said Tony Townsend, Park's head coach. "This year will be continuous learning to make these players the best they can be this year and for future years."

Townsend said the girls played in one of the toughest conferences in the state, which allowed the team to experience some of the toughest teams and players.

The Wolfpack have two returners coming back to the team with sophomore Caitlyn Swigart and freshman Kate Townsend. These two players are hoping to bring back experience from last season and be leaders for the young tennis team.

Tony Townsend said he's happy to have their leadership on and off the court because the girls can relate better to the players at certain times throughout the season. He's excited to see how these girls take on the upcoming season, but he's looking forward to how these players practice and commit themselves to this sport each day during the season and during the offseason.

"The work ethic that everyone is showing currently is great," Swigart said. "We are looking forward to seeing these players grow with each match and each practice."

The Raptors of East Ridge also have a handful of players returning from last year's varsity team. The team lost eight of its varsity players to graduation, but head coach Jon Rydberg is excited to see the 56 players that came to the first week of practice.

Many of those eight players played on the varsity team since they started high school, so the team chemistry and culture stayed relatively the same for the last four years. The Raptors weren't able to achieve their goal of reaching state last season as they finished second behind Eagan in the section finals.

"This conference is tough and section play never gets easier," said East Ridge senior co-captain Makenna Sandberg. "We know it'll be a fairly new team, but we're excited to see this team grow with each practice and play well as a team in matches."

Even though the team will be filled with many new players, Rydberg knows the culture and atmosphere of East Ridge tennis will always continue with each team. The culture of playing fair and enjoying each match along with encouraging teammates and always thinking about the team. He's already seen this culture take place in the first week and he's excited to see what the future holds.

Marcia Bussey, the head coach for the New Life Academy girls tennis team, said the Eagles are facing small numbers in participation, but have a positive outlook.

The Eagles finished their 2017 season with an 8-11 overall record. New Life had eight players on the team last season, but six players will make it tough for the Eagles in each match.
New Life will have to play four singles players and only one doubles pairing for each match. There will be two doubles matches that will result in a forfeit for New Life at the beginning, so each match will start 2-0 for the Eagles' opponents.

The good part for New Life is the fight and strength of these players, which will make it hard on opponents to earn the other two points to win the match.

The first couple of weeks into the season will be new territory for these coaches with all the new faces on the teams. Once those couple weeks are done, then the focus will be on working hard to be better than the last match.

"It's always fun to get back on the courts with all your friends," said East Ridge senior co-captain Kailey Courteau. "I just can't wait for this season to start."