BV picked as one of ESD’s best tennis programs
August 20. 2013 9:56AM
Jesse Gladis and the Lady Lynx tennis team have placed themselves in unfamiliar territory.
According to Gladis, Eastern South Dakota Conference coaches have pegged Brandon Valley as one of the league’s top team this season. Aberdeen Central is the other.
But Gladis said the team’s success this year – and every year – depends on the attitudes of the girls.
“If they can play hard, play focused and have fun, I think the sky’s the limit for this team,” he said. “But we can be a middle-of-the-state team if we put too much pressure on ourselves and don’t have fun with it.”
Graduating just two players from last year’s team, the program returns with 23 players in grades 9-12. The loss of just a few players bides well for the team who will be led by three seniors – Erin Buse, Kate Ellis and Leandra Marais, a transfer from Montana. A pair of juniors – Makenzie Marso and Logan Hawkins – are joined by five sophomores – Jessica Berg, Hanna Mutschelknaus, Emily Rief, Jessica Sadler and Katie Wright.
Seven freshmen complete the roster: Emily Crosby, Lara Ellis, Chandler Harstad, Emily Konz, Randa Mikkelson, Nicole Priola and Kiara Valentien.
Gladis anticipates an exciting year for Buse, who’s closing in on her 100th match win.
“She can beat anyone in the state. She’s got a big serve and can pound it back from anywhere on the court. She’s also very smart so she knows how to play different people,” Gladis said. “Although she doesn’t put pressure on herself, she has some pressure as she closes in on that landmark. I don’t know if Brandon Valley’s seen that ever or it’s been a long time if they have.”
Buse will team up once again in doubles with Sadler, who put in 180 hours into the game over the summer.
“We just need to work as hard as we can to go as far as we can,” Sadler said. “We’re going for the gold.”
Marais comes to Brandon Valley from Montana, where she played No. 1 singles.
“She’s a little rusty right now but I think she’s got the strokes and skills,” Gladis said.
Marso and Mutschelknaus are back together for a third season in doubles. They won No. 3 doubles in 2011 and took third in No. 1 doubles last season, and this summer took some doubles training as well.
“That gave us new strategies to play so we can put more points away,” Mutschelknaus said. “I think overall it helped a lot.”
Gladis also looks for good things from Hawkins, a transfer student from Garretson who “has the ability to get any balls back,” he said, and Emily Konz, who played No. 3 doubles last year with 2013 senior Haylee Thomas. “She looks phenomenal,” Gladis said. “She really stepped up her game.”
Ellis also brings a solid game to the court, he said.
Gladis said the addition of the Metro Conference gives his squad one more opportunity to prepare for the ESD and state tournaments.
“The Metro Conference will be a very good conference meet as we play it before ESD.
Washington and O’Gorman will be the strong teams there and both could be state champions,” he said. “So it will be a good tournament for to see where we sit before state.”
Coming off a 10th place finish at state, Gladis said the Lynx hope to improve on that standing.
“Our state goal is to finish higher, have fun, to play hard and focus point by point,” he said. “If we do that, no matter where we end up is where we were meant to be.”
Gladis recognizes St. Thomas More, O’Gorman, Aberdeen Central, Washington and Roosevelt as five of the Class AA’s best programs.
But Buse is optimistic about her team’s chances this season as well.
“There was a lot of work by all of our girls,” she said. “We all got out and worked together and played a lot this summer. … and that’s how our program grew a lot.”
The Lady Lynx open their 2013 campaign with a home triangular against Watertown and Rapid City Stevens this Friday. Play begins at 8:30 a.m. On Saturday, the team travels to compete in the Brookings Quad and next Monday they will host Sioux Falls Roosevelt at 4 p.m.
2013 GIRLS TENNIS SCHEDULE
Aug. 23 Watertown, R.C. Stevens
Aug. 24 at Brookings
Aug. 26 at Roosevelt
Aug. 30-31 at R.C. Invite
Sept. 3 O’Gorman
Sept. 7 at Huron Quad
Sept. 9 at Luverne
Sept. 13-14 BV Team Invite
Sept. 16 Lincoln
Sept. 17 Pipestone
Sept. 23 at Madison
Sept. 28 Metro Conf., Sioux Falls
Oct. 1 Mitchell
Oct. 3 ESD Conf., Pierre
Oct. 10-12 State Tournament, Sioux Falls & Brandon