Learning season for Spartan tennis team

Junior Rikki Berchild is very candid when asked about this year's Superior High School girls tennis team. "I don't think this is going to be our best season, but I think it's going to be a good season for learning," Berchild said. The Spartans ha...

Junior Rikki Berchild is very candid when asked about this year's Superior High School girls tennis team.

"I don't think this is going to be our best season, but I think it's going to be a good season for learning," Berchild said.

The Spartans have a large group of freshmen joining the team, so it will be up to the six or seven seniors returning to help them learn the system quickly.

"We have a lot of older and a lot of younger (players)," said Breanna Minor, a senior this year. "As seniors, we try to lead and help out the freshmen who haven't played as much before. But we all mostly work as a team and do things as a group."

When head coach Pete Conley is busy working with players to improve individual skills, the upperclassmen do their best to help younger teammates who have questions. Minor said she worked with some girls outside of practice before the season started, and now all of the experienced players lend a helping hand where they can.


"Lots of girls picked up a racket Tuesday morning -- that was the first time they'd ever touched it," Minor said.

That means some players are still learning the rules of the game and the basics of swinging a racket. For the group just starting out, it will indeed be a learning year, but things can change quickly, as Berchild will attest.

"Last year was the first year that I ever played tennis, that I had picked up a racket," Berchild said.

She now plays in the top doubles team.

"This year will be a little bit of rebuilding, but we still have a chance," Minor said. "We have a few really good players who could do well. And next year I think the team could be dynamite if they wanted to. Of course I'll be gone by then, so sad."

The atmosphere on the tennis court is light right now, as the new players try to get a feel for the game and the others try to brush off the rust from a long offseason. When the Spartans began practicing last week, the weather didn't help them got off to a fast start.

"It's been raining like the first three days (of practice)," Berchild said. "We've been inside doing a lot of sprints and a lot of footwork because we're slow sometimes."

In addition to improving speed and positioning on the court, both Minor and Berchild would like to see the team grow close this season. Minor remembers how strong the tennis team was her freshman year, and she feels it was team communication and bonding that made the Spartans a good team at that time.


"Even when I played singles my first two years, it helps if you have your whole team sitting behind you cheering you on, rather than standing there by yourself trying to win," Minor said.

Both players said they are expected to cheer on teammates and show support.

"We don't leave," Berchild said. "Even if you're done with your match, you don't leave until the last match is played."

Eau Claire North, Eau Claire Memorial and Chippewa Falls are all expected to have solid teams this season. The Spartans will only see the competition once before facing the teams in subsectional play. Locally, Duluth East should provide a challenge. According to Minor, Superior has held its own against the Greyhounds in recent years, and the Spartans hope to get a win against their Minnesota rivals this season.

"It usually comes down to one match," Minor said.

Win or lose, the Spartans will never hang their heads if they give their best effort.

"As long as we play our best Conley is always proud of us," Minor said. "But he knows when we're not playing our best."

The season as a whole is likely to be a learning experience. Berchild understands that and is looking forward to next season.


"We do have a lot of new people, so hopefully it's going to pay off with them by next year," Berchild said. "So watch out for girls tennis."

The Spartan girls tennis team hosts Cloquet at 4:15 p.m. today.

Superior High School

2008 Girls Tennis

Sat., Aug. 16 at E.C. North Invite, 9 a.m.

Tue., Aug. 19 vs. Cloquet, 4:15 p.m.

Thur., Aug. 21 at Rice Lake, 3 p.m.

Fri., Aug. 22 at Duluth Denfeld, noon


Tue., Aug. 26 vs. Duluth Central, 4:15 p.m.

Thur., Aug. 28 at Duluth East, 4:15 p.m.

Tue., Sept. 2 vs. Duluth Denfeld, 4:15 p.m.

Thur., Sept. 4 vs. Hermantown, 4:15 p.m.

Tue., Sept. 9 vs. Barron, 4:15 p.m.

Thur., Sept. 11 at Duluth Central, 4:15 p.m.

Tue., Sept. 16 at Cloquet, 4:15 p.m.

Mon., Sept. 22 at Duluth Marshall, 4:15 p.m.


Thur., Sept. 25 at Hermantown, 4 p.m.

Tue., Sept. 30 vs. Ashland, 4:15 p.m.

Mon., Oct. 6 WIAA Sub-Sectionals at ECM

Thur., Oct. 09 WIAA Sectionals - Wausau East

Thur., Oct. 16-18 WIAA State - Madison

Fri., Oct. 24-25 WIAA State Team - Madison

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