Waseca Tennis vs. Saint James

Charlie Huttemier and the rest of the Waseca Bluejays boys tennis team return to the courts on Thursday following a two-year hiatus. (File/southernminn.com)

Waseca boys tennis coach Kyle Collins has been faced with a challenge he was not necessarily expecting already this spring.

Everyone is fully aware of the difficulties that are present both inside of and outside of the sports world due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The cancellation of spring sports last year as a result didn’t help things either, but these challenges become even more difficult to overcome when it’s tough to even field enough athletes for practice.

“It has been challenging to say the least,” Collins said. “We are dealing with low numbers all-around and we’ve still got some guys that are nursing some injuries from winter sports yet...It’s been a challenge of who’s going to show up each day for practice, let alone the COVID circumstances, everyone’s challenged with that to.”

Collins mentioned at least five Bluejay tennis players who are currently limited due to injury, including senior leaders Ben Diedrich and Earl Hansen whose hamstring and wrist, respectively, were casualties of winter athletics. He is hopeful that both athletes will be able to return in relatively short order as only senior Charlie Huttemier — who has been one of the better boys tennis players for Waseca over the last four years — has locked down a competition spot.

“Not having a season last year really, really hurt us,” Collins said of the development and success his team missed out on due to the pandemic. “We were looking to have a really good season...It was unfortunate, but we’re thankful to be outside and on the courts this spring.”

Collins believes that the goal for his team this season is no different than any other year and that’s to bring home the Big South Conference — East Division title. However, at the moment, his main goal is just getting everybody healthy.

“[R]ight now it’s keeping everybody healthy and have enough numbers to [play a varsity match]. That’s goal number one. Once we get in the swing of things, I think we’re going to really improve. We’ve got some young, inexperienced players who are going to have to step up and I’m sure they will.”

The Bluejays open up their season on Thursday against St. James.

ROSTER

Earl Hansen, senior

Charlie Huttemier, senior

Ben Diedrich, senior

Dahminik Deutsch, senior

Luke Osweiler, senior

Hunter Supalla, junior

Jacari Jellum, sophomore

Max Neaves, sophomore

Ahmed Farooq, freshman

Oliver Rohwer, freshman

Dominic Grunzke, freshman

Tyler Jellum, eight grade

SCHEDULE

Thursday, April 8 — St. James Area, 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, April 13 — Redwood Valley, 4:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 15 — Fairmont, 4:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 17 — at Pine City quadrangular, 9 a.m.

Tuesday, April 20 — at Schaeffer Academy, 4:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 22 — at Blue Earth Area, 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, April 27 — New Ulm, 4:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 29 — at Worthington, 4:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 1 — at Faribault, 10 a.m.

Thursday, May 6 — at St. Peter, 4:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 8 — at Stewartville triangular, 9 a.m.

Tuesday, May 11 — Albert Lea, 4:30 p.m.

Thursday, May 13 — Rochester Lourdes, 4:30 p.m.

Monday, May 17 — at Austin, 4 p.m.

Tuesday, May 18 — Lake City, 4:30 p.m.

Thursday, May 20 — at New Prague triangular, 3:30 p.m.

Reach Regional Sports Editor Lucas Seehafer at 507-444-2375. © Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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