By Tyler Ohmann
The girls tennis season has nearly begun.
A Little Falls trip to Pierz, Friday, will mark the opening of the tennis season.
Little Falls, Pierz and Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Upsala-Swanville (LPGE/USA) have all started putting racket to ball in practice.
The face of the Flyers will change the most.
Little Falls graduated its top two singles players in Arielle Emerson and Angela Meschke. Both were All-Conference in the Granite Ridge.
Grace Schulte will be back for her senior season as an All-Conference performer for Little Falls.
However, Kristen Athmann, Madeline Wright and Tamara Rhames, all contributors at the varsity level graduated.
Others returning who had varsity experience last fall will be: Senior Emily Orr, senior Lydia Lange, sophomore Sadie Sue Houdeck and sophomore Mikayla Geise.
“I think the chemistry this year is going to be phenomenal,” said Flyers head coach Deb Yliniemi-Ahlin. “We have the right amount of experience and leadership with the right mixture of young players who are eager to compete.”
Pierz and LPGE/USA too lose several significant seniors.
Pierz’ Hannah Andrea, Abby Athman, Tori Fleischhacker and Magen Langer all graduated in 2016.
However, seniors Brittney Boser and Avy Lease are back.
So too is junior Becky Langer, who was third in Section 7A South in singles a year ago.
Kalyn Gritzmacher will be a junior, and she contributed mightily as a sophomore at No. 3 singles.
Sophomore Abby Andrea and junior Anessa Leidenfrost also return with experience.
LPGE/USA loses superstar Abby Ecker.
However, Ally Ecker returns as a captain.
Two players from Swanville will return with experience in Jaxx Pechan and Cathleen Rieffer.
Both played on doubles teams for LPGE/USA last fall.
LPGE/USA’s season begins Tuesday, Aug. 22, at Crosby-Ironton.