Tennis: Another big season looks imminent for Osakis
Osakis tennis coach Ryan Maddock was clearing off the courts at about 5:30 on Monday morning after a night of rain left the playing of a home-opening quad up in the air for his team.
The start time got pushed back from 8 a.m. to 9, but the Silverstreaks were able to host Morris-West Central Area, Staples-Motley and Yellow Medicine East with a little bit of dedication from the head coach.
Maddock expects that dedication out of his players, and they have delivered again by playing plenty of tennis in the off-season. That will likely lead to another winning season for this program after going 21-4 and finishing fourth at the Class A state tournament in 2017.
“We did lose four girls out of the starting lineup,” Maddock said. “They did a really good job for us, so we can’t just assume that the kids that are getting into the lineup are going to do exactly what those kids did last year, but I think we’re going to be right there. We have real athletic underclassmen. After our top seven, there’s about eight or nine girls who can all play. We’re just trying to figure out where they all fit in.”
The Silverstreaks feature some of the top players in the area, led by first singles player Tia Dykema. Dykema is a sophomore but has plenty of experience in big matches.
There’s also depth in the lineup as Osakis improved to 4-0 with a couple of 7-0 wins over Staples-Motley and Morris-WCA on Monday. They controlled those as much as the scores indicate with none of the matches going to three sets.
“We’ve been practicing all summer, getting ready for this season,” senior Lauren Scherr said. “I think just coming off of last season, we’re pretty pumped to see what happens.”
Scherr is one of three seniors on this team with Shea Olson and Muriah Adolphsen. Scherr will likely anchor the second singles spot, but she hasn’t played yet this year.
She will be back in the lineup this week, but a cut nerve during surgery to have her wisdom teeth removed last week required an additional surgery to repair that. Junior Alexa Lien has held down the second singles spot in her absence and gone 3-1 to help Osakis to its perfect start.
“We have pretty good depth,” Scherr said. “Our singles are really strong. Doubles, we’re still finding where we want everyone in there.”
The doubles lineup is where some of the younger girls are getting their first looks this season on varsity. The Silverstreaks used Monday to work players into the lineup, including the 8th-grade third doubles team of Larissa Hoffarth and Ellie George getting a 6-2, 6-1 win against Morris-WCA.
“We all have a lot of trust in the younger girls,” Olson said. “They’ve been working really hard because they know they have some big shoes to fill. They’re working hard, and we’re there to support them every step of the way.”
Olson has been to a state singles tournament in her career, but she’s anchoring the top doubles spot with junior Camryn Hoffarth right now. They have dominated their way to a 4-0 start to the season. Maddock loves the flexibility that first doubles team gives Osakis in case he needs to make changes in the lineup throughout the season.
“I think we’re all very versatile as a team,” Olson said. “Last year, we had some doubles players who are moving to singles now. We have some singles players who are moving to doubles, like myself. I think we know that we can play anywhere and are open to whatever.”
Maddock said if there is an area to work on with this group, it might be getting them to be a little more aggressive at times. Osakis has the talent advantage against most of the teams it plays in the area. But in tighter matches, against the likes of another perianally strong program like Minnewaska, the Silverstreaks need to be able to take matches from their opponents.
“When you get into evenly matched matches, both kids are good at keeping the ball in play,” Maddock said. “At that point, it’s being able to outlast a kid, which can turn into some marathon matches. We think we have kids who can do that, but we want to be assertive and dictate points and finish things off at the net. We work hard with the girls on those things, so hopefully they get comfortable with that.”
Osakis or Minnewaska has won each of the last seven Section 6A titles. The Lakers won three straight before the Silverstreaks took the title a year ago. Maddock expects Minnewaska to be back as one of the best teams in the area again this fall, and they play each other on Aug. 27 in Osakis.
The Silverstreaks are always pushing to try to improve on their previous season. This year, that would mean a top three finish at state. They are off to a good start, but know a lot of work is left to be done to reach that kind of goal.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work,” Scherr said. “Even harder than last year, even though we worked super hard last year to get where we were. Keeping it up and making sure the girls know what they’re doing, what we’re here for. (It’s important) that we all have the same goals and that will help us go further, hopefully.”
OSAKIS 7, STAPLES-MOTLEY 0
SINGLES - No. 1 - Tia Dykema (O) def. Lauren Rutten, 6-0, 6-0; No. 2 - Alexa Lien (O) def. Rose Han, 6-0, 7-6 (7-1); No. 3 - Mara VanNyhuis (O) def. Haley Cichos, 6-2, 6-0; No. 4 - Kennedy George (O) def. Ellie DiGiovanni, 6-1, 6-1
DOUBLES - No. 1 - Shea Olson/Camryn Hoffarth (O) def. Jenna Dvorak/Tasha Achermann, 6-2, 6-0; No. 2 - Sydney Rach/Kadyn Triebenbach (O) def. Abby DiGiovanni/Tiffany Achermann, 6-0, 6-1; No. 3 - Muriah Adolphsen/Helena Zajac (O) def. Amy Rollins/Georgia Kruchten, 6-1, 6-2; Exhibition - MaKenzie Lien/Hatti Schmidtbauer (O) def. Torri Nienow/Allison Knossalla, 8-3
OSAKIS 7, MORRIS-WEST CENTRAL AREA 0
SINGLES - No. 1 - Dykema (O) def. Lea Asmus, 6-0, 6-1; No. 2 - Lien (O) def. Abbigail Athey, 7-5, 6-0; No. 3 - VanNyhuis (O) def. Katie Messner, 6-0, 6-0; No. 4 - George (O) def. Katelyn Wehking, 6-1, 6-2
DOUBLES - No. 1 - Olson/Hoffarth (O) def. Ryanne Long/Greta Hentges, 6-2, 6-1; No. 2 - Dietrich/Spychalla (O) def. Hannah Wetzke/Lakia Manska, 6-2, 6-3; No. 3 - Larissa Hoffarth/Ellie George (O) def. Hailey Jackson/Ireland Winter, 6-2, 6-1; Exhibition - Madi Collins/Jayden Hensley (O) def. Bryanna Olson/Destiny Pollard, 8-7