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High school tennis: Luverne, PA get head start

LUVERNE -- For two Southwest Conference girls tennis teams, the time has come to shake off the summer dust and step into the fall.

The Luverne Cardinals begin their 2013 season Saturday at home against Lac qui Parle Valley and United South Central. Pipestone Area will open Monday in Luverne in a triangular with Yellow Medicine East and the LHS Cards.

The 2012 campaign was one to remember for Luverne. Not only did the team play for the first time ever in the Section 3A championship game (where it lost to St. James), but an individual Cardinal, Kaitlin Wohnoutka, qualified for the state tournament.

This year the Cardinals will be without the graduated Wohnoutka. In fact, the top four singles players from last season are gone.

For two years in a row, said LHS head coach Greg Antoine, he has had the same four singles players in camp. So this season will be quite an adjustment, indeed.

"I don't think there will be a girl who will be at the same position," he said.

Despite the turnover, Antoine believes he's set in at least three singles positions. Senior Paige Adams and junior Kynzie Smedsrud, the No. 1 doubles team of a year ago, will play singles this fall. Mckenzi Wenninger looks like the frontrunner for No. 3 singles.

Antoine says he has some good young players coming up. Adams and Brianna Erickson are his two seniors. There are seven juniors vying for playing time, but most are inexperienced.

In Pipestone, head coach Ed Gustafson returns senior Veronica Johnson, who played at No. 1 singles all of last season. Senior Nicole Scotting and sophomore Abby Steffan will vie for No. 2 singles.

In all, six letter winners graduated from a team that finished near the .500 mark in wins and losses. The Arrows made an early exit in the section team and individual tournaments.

"We're going to be really inexperienced in doubles," said Gustafson about the 2013 squad. "We're going to have more strength in singles this year. In the past, we've been more experienced in doubles."

Other returning letter winners for Pipestone Area include sophomores Maya Bledsoe and Sarah Woelber and junior Tayla Sysavath.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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