Braves’ girls set for success with Barron

Dennis Grall photo Gladstone’s Andie Balenger comes up from the baseline to return a shot during a 2018 No. 1 singles match against Escanaba’s Heather Bergstrom in Gladstone. Balenger will be the No. 1 singles player again in 2019 for Gladstone, which begins its season at Kingsford Monday under first-year coach Ryan Barron.

GLADSTONE — A new coach and a new season awaits for the Gladstone girls tennis team, which begins its season Monday at Kingsford at 11 a.m. EDT.

First-year coach Ryan Barron steps in to replace Halley Reichel, who stepped down at the end of last season. Barron, who took the job in June, is excited to get back into coaching. He coached boys and girls varsity golf and boys junior high basketball at Big Bay de Noc from 2010 to 2017, boys jayvee tennis at Negaunee in 2010 and robotics in Gladstone since 2017.

“I was hired in June,” he said. “I’ve wanted to get back into coaching and this opportunity came about. I am looking forward to working with the athletes again.”

The Braves lost last year’s Division 1 All-State doubles tandem of Sydney Herioux and Taylor Trudeau to graduation, but still return many solid players.

“Key returning players are senior Andie Balenger at No. 1 singles and junior Alaina Trudeau at No. 2 singles,” Barron said. “(Our) No. 1 doubles pair is senior Olivia Saari and junior Marnnea LaFave.”

The Braves visit Marquette for a meet Thursday and then visit Escanaba Aug. 26 before hosting Menominee in their first home meet Aug. 27.

“We are looking forward to a successful season,” Barron said. “We have a great group of girls with tremendous work ethic. They make it easy to coach.”

Barron says it’s a positive that most of the girls on the team are multi-sport athletes, while also noting their unselfishness.

“Many of the girls are multi-sport athletes — which makes them competitive, dedicated, responsible, and sports smart — traits that every coach looks for,” he said. “This group of girls is never focused on their individual needs, but what is best for the entire team. We have lots of potential. Everyone on the team is a crucial component in our tennis program. I am very anxious to get the ball rolling to see how the season plays out.”

The schedule:

Aug. 19 — at Kingsford

Aug. 22 — at Marquette

Aug. 26 — at Escanaba

Aug. 27 — Menominee

Aug. 28 — at Negaunee

Aug. 29 — at Westwood invite

Sept. 3 — Escanaba

Sept. 4 — at Gwinn

Sept. 11 — Kingsford

Sept. 12 — Gwinn

Sept. 16 — Westwood

Sept. 17 — at Iron Mountain

Sept. 23 — at Ishpeming

Sept. 24 — at West Iron County

Sept. 30 — at Menominee

Oct. 2 — GNC meet at Marquette

Oct. 9 — U.P. Finals at Kingsford