Netters' youth movement may surprise competition
The future will have some bumps but Wadena-Deer Creek head tennis coach Darin Carstens will have help in smoothing them out.
Carstens, who has coached the WDC girls' tennis team for the last two seasons, has taken over the boys' program with a youth movement in progress.
Five of Carstens' 11 netmen are eighth-graders this spring and they will be vying for court time with six high school players.
Carstens is taking a practical approach to the season. He knows it will take his younger players time to develop against the upperclassmen they will encounter.
"We're very young so we're go to take a few bruises here and there," Carstens said.
Since the Wolverines have just two seniors, two freshmen, a junior and a sophomore in the ranks with the eighth-graders, playing time will not be quite as difficult to come by this spring.
Cody Bain and Justin Tucker are back for their senior seasons. Carstens likes Bain's quickness and his soft touch at the net. He rates Tucker as a smart competitor who will do well at the baseline. He is counting on both of his seniors for their leadership.
"They're going to have to help out a lot with this younger team," Carstens said.
Taylor Garcia is out for his junior season and Carstens sees trouble ahead for his competition.
"Taylor is more of a strength player," Carstens said. "If you play Taylor you're going to be in for a long match. He's going to make you play a lot of tennis."
Bain and Garcia rate as the team's top two singles players. Tucker may see action at both singles and doubles.
Sophomore Cory Pettow "has a lot of good skills" according to Carstens and just needs time to develop them. As the season gets under way Pettow looks like WDC's No. 4 singles player.
Freshmen Austin Korkowski and Zach Norenberg were doubles partners last year and Carstens intends to keep them together.
The team's eighth-graders include Mike Paavola, Josh Lund, Artem Poliakov, Drew Larson and Joe Pate. Paavola and Larson saw action in the doubles last year but the lineup is far from set and their classmates are also likely to get their chances on the court.
"They might surprise a few people too," Carstens said.