Prep girls tennis: Young Superior team learning on the fly

Several Spartan players went into the season without playing a varsity match, but the team is competing pretty well and gaining valuable experience, coach Mark Winkle said.

Superior’s Sydney Friedrich returns a shot during her No. 1 singles match with Cloquet’s Marina Dostal on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Cloquet. Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Superior’s Sydney Friedrich didn’t play a single varsity match as a freshman in 2020.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team started late and missed two weeks of the season because of a positive test on the team, coach Mark Winkle said.

With only a few junior varsity matches under her belt, Friedrich moved into the No. 1 singles spot in 2021. She typically faces the top player on the opposing team and Winkle said she’s responded well.

“She’s brand new to playing at the varsity level, she has to play at No. 1 singles, she’s a sophomore and she’s doing a great job,” Winkle said. “She plays outside of our season and seems to get better every day and every week.”

Superior has been able to win a few matches so far, but ran into two of the stronger teams in the area this week in Cloquet-Esko-Carlton Monday, Sept. 13, and Duluth Marshall Tuesday, Sept. 14. The Spartans lost both matches 6-1, but the players understand that playing the top competition will help them improve.


“The players do a good job of stepping up and rising to the occasion,” Winkle said. “When they play a better opponent, it makes them better players. They’re willing to compete and they recognize that sometimes, somebody else has more experience, but they recognize that they’re in each game and that it’s close.”

Superior’s Emma Sislo winds up to smash a forehand during her match at No. 1 doubles Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Cloquet. Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Winkle said the seniors on his top doubles teams — Emma Sislo and Brooke Hendry at No. 1 doubles and Tatum Williams and Mollie Rossing at No. 2 — have helped keep Superior competitive.

“Those four seniors are doing a nice job,” Winkle said. “They jumped up a position, but they play pretty tough matches and give us a chance to win in those spots.”

Superior is next scheduled to host Duluth Denfeld at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23.

Cloquet-Esko-Carlton 6, Superior 1

Singles — Marina Dostal, CEC, def. Sydney Friedrich, 6-1, 6-0; Winnie Benjamin-Hall, CEC, def. Paige Sanders, 6-0, 6-0; Callie Holmland, S, def. Lydia Stone, 7-6 (5), 6-3; Alexis Goranson, CEC, def. Lexi Johnsen, 2-6, 6-2, 6-0.

Doubles — Brynn Martin/Jayden Karppinen, CEC, def. Emma Sislo/Brooke Hendry, 6-3, 6-1; Carlee Maslowski/Addie Loeb, CEC, def. Tatum Williams/Mollie Rossing, 7-5, 6-3; Bella Harriman/Dana Jones, CEC, def. Mattie Schilling/Greta Clark, 6-0, 6-4.


Duluth Marshall 6, Superior 1

Singles — Meredith Boettcher, DM, def. Sydney Friedrich 6-2, 6-1; Reese Orn, DM, def. Paige Sanders 6-1, 6-1; Emily Etter, DM, def. Callie Holmland 6-1, 6-1; Danica Mark, DM, def. Lexi Johnsen 6-2, 6-3.

Doubles — Eva Etter/Anna Koski, DM, def. Brooke Hendry/Emma Sislo 7-6 (7-3), 6-4; Mollie Rossing/Tatum Williams, S, def. Grace Strandberg/Rebecca Landherr 6-1, 3-6, 6-2; Audrey Dodge/Cedar Fisher, DM, def. Sarah Benson/Ruby Farnham 6-0, 5-7, 10-6.

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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