Still early in the season the Tomah Timberwolves girls' tennis team was a relaxed group as they found their place for a team picture.
That is a quality Tomah coach Ben Bannan hopes this year’s team carries through the season. That is only part of the equation.
“I want to have players support one another on and off the courts, to get better at tennis, and to have fun,” Bannan said.
Bannan returns a strong core from a team that put together a solid short fall season in which they ended 8-3 overall, 4-3 in conference.
In the post season Tomah’s number one singles player Cadence Thomson, and their number one doubles team of Deirdre Martin and Jenna Hausman qualified for the state tournament. Martin and Hausman won their first match to advance to the round of 16. Thomson returns to anchor the squad. Martin and Hausman both graduated.
Other returning letter winners this season include seniors Macy Arch, Moriah Murray and Sabin Steinhoff, junior Olivia Czarnecki and sophomore Makenzie Kohn.
Bannan’s seniors are doing what is expected of veterans
“The seniors are stepping up to lead in practice,” Bannan said. “We have six returners from the varsity, but a lot of new faces. We have a number of players returning with two to three years of varsity experience. They know what to expect from practice and matches. “We bring back a lot of singles experience.
One of the challenges will be to develop cohesive doubles tandems.
“We lost a lot of our double experience. All four graduates for us were good double players,” Bannan said. “We have been working in practice to put together some new doubles teams and get them some experience playing together. They are improving, but learning to work smoothly with someone else as one doubles team take time.”
This season in the Mississippi Valley Conference will feature schools getting familiar with each other again after COVID. Bannan feels La Crosse Aquinas sets the bar for Tomah and others to follow.
“Aquinas was the best from our conference last fall,” Bannan said. “Until someone proves otherwise in my mind they are the team to beat. Central looked good in the alternate spring season, but since they played in alternate seasons it is hard to compare the two. With Logan and Central not playing last fall we have not seen them in almost two years. It’s hard to compare them to the rest of the conference that played in the fall. We are working to be in the hunt."