Midgets eye new season, new hopeThe Dickinson High girls head tennis coach is no slouch when it comes to play on the court.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
The Dickinson High girls head tennis coach is no slouch when it comes to play on the court.
Just ask senior Brooke Lietzke.
“I’ve seen him play and he’s a very, very good tennis player,” she said.
James Kramer embarks on his second stint as head coach of the Dickinson girls tennis team and through the first two weeks of practice he’s already pleasantly surprised with the talent level.
“I came in thinking I’m going to go back to square one and really put some emphasis on fundamentals,” Kramer said. “I’ve been very impressed that the girls are doing a great job with the fundamentals and basic parts, which is going to allow us to go into a little more in depth things a little bit quicker.”
The Midgets have a healthy dose of senior leadership to rely on this season. Lietzke is joined by Sydney Smutzler and Alex Simonieg.
One unique aspect Kramer pointed out is there are no juniors in the top six on varsity this season. Dickinson has two sophomores and one freshman.
“We have a lot of girls that are younger that have a lot of potential,” Smutzler said. “If we have a steady coach, I think that will help a lot and we’ll develop skills a lot better.”
Lindsey Bakken and Mariah Jorda make up the sophomore class, while Reanna Peterson is the lone freshman. The two sophomores have been in the varsity program since they were eighth-graders and Lietzke said leaving the team in the hands of Bakken and Jorda is one thing she is perfectly fine with.
“It’s good to have senior leadership, but it’s also good to know that they (the Midgets) are going to have good leadership from them coming up,” Lietzke said. “It feels good to leave the team in the hands of them.”
Kramer’s background in tennis includes playing at Dickinson High and then for Dickinson State in the ’80s. After college, he coached Dickinson’s boys and girls tennis teams in the early ’90s.
“It’s not my first stint with tennis,” Kramer said. “I’ve been out of coaching for a little while, but I’m back in it.”
Kramer gives a lot of credit to previous head coach Steve Shepson for building up a program.
“I think Steve Shepson did a great job of building some consistency and numbers,” Kramer said. “In any sport, you want numbers. There are 30 girls ninth through 12th grade.”
The expectations for this season are simple — qualify for the state tournament.
“I hope one or two or a doubles team makes it to state,” Smutzler said. “We haven’t made it to state for a very long time.”
Kramer knows it’s going to take a team effort by all the girls to achieve this goal at the end of the season.
“When this team gets into their mold, it’s not going to be one or two people carrying the team,” he said. “It’s going to be six or seven girls doing their job.”
Lietzke agrees with Kramer about doing their job and said the girls have the work ethic to back it up.
“I think that we have a pretty good team this year,” Lietzke said. “We have a lot of hard workers.”
With Kramer joining the coaching ranks again, the first couple weeks of the season is going to a learning experience.
“I don’t know where the other schools sit and where they rank, so it’s going to be a learning curve for me at the start of this season,” Kramer said. “I think the first week playing two of the top teams in the WDA, Mandan and Century, are going to give us a real good indication where we sit right away.”