GLADSTONE - Like many teams across the Upper Peninsula last season, the Gladstone Braves girls tennis team was loaded with senior talent. Now, like their counterparts, the Braves have undergone a shakeup as a new group moves up to take the court as the season opens Thursday against Marquette.
"We had a very good senior class last year and some great tennis players," said coach Rich Trombly. "They'll be missed but they always graduate and the next group comes in ready to go."
The singles lineup has some familiarity to it as junior Gabby Movalson will retain her No. 2 slot while Lauren Parrett moves up to No. 3 after seeing time at No. 3 and No. 4 last season.
Moving up to claim the No. 1 spot is senior Alison Austin while Cassandra LaMarche who spent last year in France, returns to play in the No. 4 slot.
"The singles lineup is solid. All of them are pretty even. We've had some nice challenge matches and our depth should be pretty good," said Trombly. "Alison is a very tough competitor and should be fine at No. 1. She's very tenacious, she doesn't panic and she holds her composure extremely well. She works through things and doesn't get rattled. She' isn't too high or too low which is a good quality for pitchers and also for tennis players."
"Lauren is developing a solid game at No. 2 and Cassy is a solid player at No. 4. She played on varsity as a sophomore and will be a good person to have back."
The doubles lineup will see the most change.
Bridget Becker and Nicole Trudeau will take over the No. 1 pairing after playing in the No. 3 and No. 4 slots respectively last season.
Melissa Casey and Brooke Douglas move up to No. 2 while freshman Paige Schwartz pairs up with Anna Carmella at No. 3. The No. 4 paring will be held by Kayla Wiltzius and Audrey Strom.
"There's big changes in the doubles lineup after we had such strong doubles last season," said Trombly. "But, a lot of teams lost an awful lot. That particular class throughout the U.P. seemed like there were quite a few seniors playing. It goes in cycles."
One thing Trombly feels confident in with this team is the amount of internal competition for spots.
"Our strength is our depth, " he said. "We spent Sunday, Monday and Tuesday at Boyne Mountain doing challenge matches and they're all getting along really well together."
The Great Northern Conference has collectively lost a lot of senior talent, but Trombly pointed to Kingsford, which returns their top two singles flights in Sam Fleming and Hannah Tresedder, as an early favorite.
"Kingsford has the edge because of their top two singles players. I know they have athletic kids that know how to play tennis. Marquette, I'm not sure about. We'll find out Thursday, but they should be competitive as well."
Trombly knows there will be some growing pains with this fresh group of faces, but he looks forward to the season.
"It's going to be a fun bunch. They're all getting along really well together," he said. "I"m sure we'll have some success and some steps back. Maybe a disappointment or two, but I'm looking forward to a nice year with a great bunch of kids."
Aug. 23 - Marquette; Aug. 25 - at Kingsford Invitational; Aug. 27 - Escanaba; Aug. 28 - at Menominee; Aug. 31 - Negaunee,
Sept. 4 - Iron Mountain; Sept 5 - at Gwinn; Sept. 10 - at Kingsford; Sept. 11 - at Escanaba; Sept. 13 - Munising; Sept. 17 - at Westwood; Sept. 20 - Gwinn; Sept 24 - Ishpeming; Sept. 26 - GNC Meet at Kingsford.
Oct 1 - Menominee; Oct. 3 - U.P. Finals at Marquette