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WHS girls tennis team aims for improvement

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe WHS tennis players (from left) Brianna Kempema, Emily Williamson and Annie Lesnar practice Thursday afternoon at the WMS courts.1 / 2
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WORTHINGTON -- The 2013 Worthington Trojans girls tennis team has talent, says head coach Mike Marquardt. His job is to get them to believe it, too.

"I truly feel that we have to break through the mental barriers. The girls are starting to understand that they are good. And I think that's a huge part of it," said the veteran coach.

The Trojans didn't exactly broadcast their talent to the rest of the high school girls tennis world last fall. They posted a 4-13 record.

But only two letterwinners -- Kate Lesnar and Elizabeth Luke -- have graduated from that team. Seven experienced players remain to improve on their 2012 performances.

They include seniors Makensie Carstensen, Rachel Drietz, Sarah Janssen and Laura Wetering, and juniors Emily Williamson, Annie Lesnar and Brianna Kempema.

Carstensen, who played second and third doubles last year, is described by Marquardt as a fine net player with solid ground strokes. This year she'll demonstrate an improved ability to finish at the net, said the coach.

Drietz is tabbed again for a singles role this year after playing in the third singles spot a year ago. Marquardt is counting on her for longer rallies and smarter points.

Janssen will again be playing doubles. She's smart and provides balance with any partner she's paired with, according to Marquardt. She knows where to be on the court and is getting more aggressive at the net.

Marquardt says Wetering, a singles player, will need to be more patient this year. But she understands the game well.

Williamson is expected to make the move from No. 2 singles to No. 1 singles. "A phenomenal all-around player," Marquardt describes her, adding that she's ready to step up and be a great leader.

Lesnar provides consistency. She's solid at returning and doesn't make many mistakes.

Kempema is a versatile player who can perform at singles or doubles -- an important asset to a well-rounded team.

With the regular season set to begin Tuesday against the River Valley Wildcats in Sleepy Eye, Marquardt maintains an optimistic pose.

"The ladies that have been in waiting are now going to get a chance to fill in. We're loaded with experience. The transition (from last year) won't be too difficult. We'll just have to be a little more consistent and try to be more successful than we were last year," he said.

Fundamentals will be key. The Trojans have been working on them diligently in preseason practices.

"If you can do it one time," said Marquardt, "you should be able to do it any time."

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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