Young Kernels squad opens season todayA young Mitchell High School girls’ tennis team takes the courts in its home opener against Rapid City Central and Vermillion at 12:30 p.m. today at Hitchcock Park in Mitchell.
By: Brooke Cersosimo, The Daily Republic
A young Mitchell High School girls’ tennis team takes the courts in its home opener against Rapid City Central and Vermillion at 12:30 p.m. today at Hitchcock Park in Mitchell.
The Kernels lost four varsity players from last year’s team including three to graduation — Kendra Cersosimo, Kayla White and Abby Yahne. Last year’s No. 1 player Amanda Hegg decided not to return to the team for the 2012 season for unknown reasons.
New leaders and Kernel seniors Courtney Wells and Chelsea Kracht will take the top two singles spots during today’s triangular. Before taking over the No. 1 spot, Wells played No. 2 for the Kernels last season, while Kracht will make a jump to the No. 2 singles position after playing in the No. 5 spot a year ago.
“We are depending on our seniors to lead our underclassmen this season,” head coach Pat Moller said. “They have great attitudes, and they’ve really settled into their leadership roles.”
Sophomores Grace Grabenstein and Haley Smith will play No. 3 and No. 4 singles respectively in today’s matches. Grabenstein got playing time last year at the No. 6 singles spot, while Smith was a part of the No. 3 doubles team.
Newcomers to the varsity lineup are freshman Halle Larson, who fits in at No. 5 singles, and sophomore Tatum Dean, who rounds out the top six for the Kernels.
“Our top 10 could stay or change as the season goes,” Moller said. “We’re going to keep the girls battling for those bottom spots to figure out our best lineup.”
Wells and Kracht will make the No. 1 doubles team, Grabenstein and Smith will team up for No. 2 doubles and Larson and seventh-grader Sammy Pooley will play No. 3 doubles.
The Kernels finished fifth in the Eastern South Dakota Conference tournament last season and 12th at the state tournament in Moller’s first year as head coach.
Moller said this year will be a rebuilding year with all of the new faces, but he still has high hopes for the team.
“Our goals can be defined as we gain experience this season,” he said. “My goal for the team is for the girls to feel like they’ve got a shot against anyone by the end of the season.
“These girls have such good personalities and love to play tennis.”
Last season, the team swept Rapid City Central and Vermillion in its first match of the year.
The Kernels will take on Rapid City Central for its first match of the day and play Vermillion at approximately 4 p.m. today at Hitchcock Park in Mitchell.