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DHS enters season with higher hopes

Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson junior Meryl Kovacs prepares to hit a back-hand shot during a West Region dual against Williston on April 30, 2013 at the DHS tennis courts.

Three years ago, the Dickinson High girls tennis team didn’t have many expectations.

The team wanted to get through the entire season while maintaining a full roster.

Those times have changed.

The Midgets don’t just want to get through the season. They want to win.

“Our coaches expect more and we expect more, because we know we can play better,” said Dickinson senior Lindsey Bakken, who is the No. 1 singles player. “A couple years ago we didn’t have a whole lot of faith in ourselves. We just kind of went out and played. Now, we are going out to win.”

The Midgets split their first two West Region duals, beating Williston on Tuesday and losing to Bismarck St. Mary’s on April 17.

Yet, the excitement for Dickinson is just beginning. The Midgets host Bismarck Century in a West Region dual at 3 p.m. today at the DHS tennis courts.

“The expectations are a little bit different than other years,” Dickinson head coach James Kramer said. “We are expecting to go into every match and be competitive. It’s been a few years since we could say that.

“The girls are excited for a home match. It’s always exciting to play in front of your family and friends.”

Dickinson’s learning curve has been shortened because the team returns everyone. The Midgets returned their entire varsity roster and then some.

“Anytime you have every player returning from the year before in any sport it makes things a lot easier,” Kramer said. “They understand your system. They understand your practice plans. There’s not as much instructional things going on. We can jump right into it.”

Bakken, Mariah Jorda, McKenna Love and Shealynn Roller are all seniors with multiple years of varsity experience. Jorda and Love are on the varsity singles roster in the Nos. 4 and 5 spots, respectively.

Dickinson returns several juniors with varsity experience in singles and doubles as well.

Meryl Kovacs is the No. 2 singles player while Kayla Wallace is at No. 6 singles. Junior newcomer Ziria Rascon is in the No. 3 singles spot.

“It gives us a lot of confidence,” Kovacs said. “We go into matches now with the attitude that we can beat the other team. It kind of pulls us together because we are all coming back and we trying to become stronger as individuals.”

The lone sophomore on the varsity roster is Ireland Jung, who played No. 3 doubles last year. Jung is playing No. 3 doubles again this time with Rascon.

Bakken is the lone returner with state tournament experience. The senior reached the state tournament at No. 1 singles last season. It was the first time since 2009 that a Dickinson girl reached the state tournament.

She hopes the extra hours spent practicing forehands, backhands and volleys in the offseason helps the Midgets this season. Yet, Bakken said the team’s biggest help is having the same coach for multiple years in a row.

Kramer is in his third year as the head coach of the Midgets. He was named West Region coach of the year last season.

“It really helps when your coach stays because he’s helped us grow over the past couple years,” Bakken said. “It’s really nice to have everyone come back.”

Kovacs added: “It is really nice, because can come back to those same points that we’ve been trying to get stronger at and develop more as a team.”