The good news is the Faribault girls tennis team will sport a healthy-sized senior class this fall.
The bad news, however, is that group is replacing an even larger senior class, and the numbers in subsequent age groups aren’t quite as large for the Falcons.
“Last season we had 10 seniors, so we lost 10 girls this last season and now coming up we’ve got eight,” Faribault girls tennis coach Jeff Anderson said. “That’s a pretty good chunk, and the thing that’s scary looking to the future is that’s half the team right there. Hopefully, we’ll get some new kids from seventh and eighth grade, that would be awesome, but even ninth and 10th grade since they’ll be able to play for a couple years.”
The problem, however, is the greatest avenue for recruiting new members — student talking to other students — was muffled this spring with distance learning.
Now, with Faribault’s summer tennis program slated to start next week, early registration numbers don’t suggest a large influx of new players for this fall.
“I think right now, I don’t know if people are still too afraid of COVID, but I’ve only got a couple people signed up and registered at this point for the summer program,” Anderson said. “I’m hoping that certainly improves, but at this point everyone might just be a little nervous still. It’s probably one of the safest (sports) as far as social distancing, and there’s minimal contact.”
That trepidation may have additional effects for the returning Falcons, who in past years have utilized the momentum from summer workouts to deploy an enhanced level of tennis at the start of the fall season.
“Typically, it’s awesome for the girls working with them in the summer and then going right into the fall season,” Anderson said. “It’s a great segway to be at a higher level and ready to play.”
Out of those penciled into return for a potential season this fall, rising senior Kylie Petricka headlines the group. She played at the No. 1 singles spot for parts of the last two seasons, and after the dust of graduated seniors has cleared, she appears likely to slot into that position full time this fall.
After that, it’s an open competition for nearly every other position on the roster. Rising seniors Bailey Peterson and Avery Rein, as well as rising freshman Hailey Reuvers, all have varsity singles experience.
“Hailey, she helped singles and doubles, so she could go either way and I’d probably lean her as an up and comer to help us with our doubles side,” Anderson said. “There’s others in there that will now have the opportunity that maybe were JV (before). There’s opening, and it’s really what they do over the summer and what they’ve done in the offseason to move up the ladder.”