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Girls' Tennis: East Ridge, Woodbury, New Life look forward to new faces and continued culture

The East Ridge girls tennis team graduated eight players last season, so there will be many new faces on the varsity team this upcoming season. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia

The 2018 girls tennis season will have many new faces for East Ridge, Woodbury and New Life Academy.

Many players either graduated or didn't return for the upcoming fall season, which gives these coaches new players and bright future for each program.

"It's going to be a new team, which makes me excited to see what this team can do this season," said East Ridge head coach Jon Rydberg. "We have great leadership that will teach the new players the culture of East Ridge tennis."

The Raptors of East Ridge also have a handful of players returning from last year's varsity team. The team lost eight of its varsity players to graduation, but head coach Jon Rydberg is excited to see the 56 players that came to the first week of practice.

Many of those eight players played on the varsity team since they started high school, so the team chemistry and culture stayed relatively the same for the last four years. The Raptors weren't able to achieve their goal of reaching state last season as they finished second behind Eagan in the section finals.

"This conference is tough and section play never gets easier," said East Ridge senior co-captain Makenna Sandberg. "We know it'll be a fairly new team, but we're excited to see this team grow with each practice and play well as a team in matches."

Even though the team will be filled with many new players, Rydberg knows the culture and atmosphere of East Ridge tennis will always continue with each team. The culture of playing fair and enjoying each match along with encouraging teammates and always thinking about the team. He's already seen this culture take place in the first week and he's excited to see what the future holds.

The Woodbury Royals team came into last season the exact way the Raptors are coming into this season. The majority of its team either graduated or decided to not play tennis for the fall season.

The Royals grew from that challenge at the beginning of the 2017 season and allowed many new players to experience the competitive side of the conference schedule as well as ask questions about the game.

Now, with experience under their belt and confidence building, Woodbury is looking forward to continue learning, but also a more experienced varsity team. It will be a tough schedule, just like any season, but the Royals are up for the challenge.

Marcia Bussey, the head coach for the New Life Academy girls tennis team, said the Eagles are facing small numbers in participation, but have a positive outlook.

The Eagles finished their 2017 season with an 8-11 overall record. New Life had eight players on the team last season, but six players will make it tough for the Eagles in each match.

New Life will have to play four singles players and only one doubles pairing for each match. There will be two doubles matches that will result in a forfeit for New Life at the beginning, so each match will start 2-0 for the Eagles' opponents.

The good part for New Life is the fight and strength of these players, which will make it hard on opponents to earn the other two points to win the match.

The first couple of weeks into the season will be new territory for these coaches with all the new faces on the teams. Once those couple weeks are done, then the focus will be on working hard to be better than the last match.

"It's always fun to get back on the courts with all your friends," said East Ridge senior co-captain Kailey Courteau. "I just can't wait for this season to start."

Brian Mozey

I am the sports writer for the Woodbury Bulletin and South Washington County Bulletin. I'm a graduate from the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Iowa State University and have always had a passion for sports since a young age. Whether it was watching or playing sports, I always knew sports would be in my career. I've been born and raised in the suburbs of Minneapolis and look forward to continuing to learn more about the Woodbury and Cottage Grove area throughout my time in this position. 

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