New look for SE girls

By DANA BECKER

sports@messengernews.net

It will be a new experience for Leah Applebee this coming season, as she takes over the St. Edmond girls tennis program.

With no returning letterwinners, Applebee is banking on quick studies to adapt to the varsity game.

Applebee played tennis in high school and was a member of the Dordt College team her freshman season. She replaces Tyler Philipsen, who is now the Gael boys head coach.

“I have not coached before, but I have given lessons,” Applebee said. “I played varsity as a freshman in high school and was No. 1 on my team from my sophomore year on.”

Ellen Chalstrom and Mary Eide have graduated, taking top-six individual state place finishes with them from last spring. The duo qualified for state a combined seven times and placed six of those years.

Chalstrom finished fourth last season and Eide was sixth.

“I have great expectations for the season,” Applebee said. “I know that we are a team that has lost a lot of our good players, and we are pretty much starting from scratch again, but that is something I’m excited about.

“Our team is full of young players, which means in the next few years, our team is going to only get better from this new starting point.”

Applebee stated sophomore Lily Peterson will occupy the No. 1 singles position, with Rachael Willerth, Leah Hughett, Iris Baek, Madison Tarbox and Min Hee Kang filling in the remaining slots early on.

“Really, that (positioning) could all change throughout the season,” she said. “I see everyone learning quickly and making good progress.”

Willerth is just a sophomore, while Hughett and Tarbox are both ninth-graders.

“I expect the team to improve with huge strides this year so that in the next few years, it’s just polishing up the foundations built this season,” Applebee said. “I would love to see positive attitudes and team bonding and encouragement in confronting a challenging year with a lot of learning to be done.”

The Gaels open their season Thursday at Clear Lake. Team regionals are slated for May 17 and individual regionals on May 22.