Lakeland women’s tennis team loaded to move up NACC
SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Coming off a good season that could’ve been even better, the Lakeland College women’s tennis team is out to show it’s a contender in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference this year.
The Muskies, with Kingsford grad Jenna Oberthaler the most experienced player, open their 2013 season on Saturday at home at the Sports Core in Kohler. Lakeland faces Concordia University Chicago at 10 a.m. and Dominican (Ill.) University at 2 p.m. to kick off the season sprint that is collegiate women’s tennis.
In all, the Muskies will play all 13 of their matches over a 25-day stretch.
Lakeland finished with a 6-7 overall record last year and placed eighth in the NACC with a 4-7 mark. Both of those showings marked an improvement from 3-8 conference and overall records the previous year, but the improvement could’ve been so much more.
Lakeland lost three conferences matches by 5-4 scores, to go along with another loss by a 6-3 score that included a pair of losses in third sets. Switch even two of those results, and the Muskies would’ve finished 6-5 in the NACC and likely qualified for the six-team conference tournament.
Casey Carr is in his third season as head coach of the Lakeland women’s tennis squad, and he lost just one senior off of last year’s team, though the loss is a significant one. April Schmitz was the team’s No. 1 singles player last year and teamed with Lynn Pipke (So.-Greenfield, Wis.) on a No. 1 doubles team that received honorable mention All-NACC recognition.
Oberthaler, a senior and three-year varsity starter from Iron Mountain, will play a pivotal role. She finished 4-11 last year while playing primarily at Nos. 2 and No. 3 singles, and also was 5-8 in doubles matches.
“I really hope Jenna can have a huge year this fall, because if she does our team is going to win a lot of matches,” Carr said. “She will be in a critical spot for us this year. With her college experience I believe she will complete those tasks we need from her.”
Gladstone’s Brittany Jurek is a team captain. Ishpeming’s Victoria Powelson, a two-time Upper Peninsula champion in No. 1 singles, is new to the team.
Despite their experience and close results last year, Lakeland was picked to finish eighth in the NACC preseason poll of league coaches and sports information directors. Carr likes the team’s chances of pulling some surprises, though, if it can stay healthy.
“I strongly believe we will finish a lot higher than what most of our teams initially expect out of us this fall,” Carr said. “I don’t want to get my hopes up too high because there’s always that injury bug that can hurt any team. If we’re healthy and we have our full lineup, I like our chances to do great things.”
Muskie women set to kick off 2013 season at Ripon
The Lakeland College women’s soccer team will be searching for firepower this year in what looks like another building season for the program.
The Muskies begin their 2013 season Saturday when they travel to face Ripon College. It is the first of two road games against Midwest Conference schools to start Lakeland’s season, as the team also travels to face St. Norbert College on Wednesday, Sept. 4, before its home opener Sept. 7 against the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
The Muskies are coming off a 3-15 record last year, including a 2-10 record in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference. A young team lost its final 12 games, as a lack of depth wore the team down as the season went on.
Lakeland lost several key players due to injury for stretches during the season, and often played with only 2-3 available substitutes.
Second-year coach Adam Galla once again has a relatively slim roster going into the season, with a team of 16 players. The team also is exceptionally young, with just one true senior in forward Liz Pritzl (Cedar Grove, Wis.), and 10 of 16 players on the roster are freshmen or sophomores.
Junior Taylor Jahnke (Howards Grove, Wis.) and sophomore Libby DeClark (Kingsford) switched between defensive and midfield spots last year. Jahnke was primarily the team’s top defender, but scored two goals in occasional forays up front. DeClark scored a pair of goals as well and was a starter until a midseason injury slowed her the second half of the year.
Stephanie Rock, a junior from Niagara, was another leader on defense last year but missed three games due to injury.
With limited depth, all five newcomers to the team will likely see the field sooner than later. Afton Barrows, a Kingsford grad from Iron Mountain, will contend for playing time on defense.
Lakeland was once again picked to finish down the NACC standings, coming in 11th of 12 teams in the conference preseason poll. The Muskies did defeat both Alverno College (picked 10th this year) and Rockford (Ill.) University (picked 12th) last year.