Tennis preview: Beck adjusting to new roleFirst-year coach counting on returning players in singles play
By: Brian Hall, Rosemount Town Pages
To say Dana Beck is still adjusting to her new role as head coach for the Rosemount boys tennis team might be an understatement.
Since being named the team’s coach last summer, Beck hasn’t had much time to acclimate to her new players.
“I don’t even know all of the last names,” Beck said this week. “I know most of them on a first-name basis now. I’ve got that down. We’ve got about 45 kids out and I think I can tell you everyone’s first name. Now I need to know the last names because I’m writing out lineups.”
It’s been a whirlwind transition for Beck, who also coaches the Irish girls team in the fall. She didn’t know many of the boys coming into the spring. The players she did know were those that had helped with her girls teams in the past.
Of course, learning new players wasn’t the only adjustment for Beck.
“It’s a different season playing in the spring,” Beck said. “I knew the weather would be a factor, but I didn’t know how much of a factor. We were inside the whole first week. There was snow on the courts. We finally got outside.
“It does make a difference what courts you’re playing on.”
Beck has tried to transition as quickly as possible and the Irish opened their season this week, prompting the new coach to enhance her grasp of player names. Rosemount plays at Burnsville today and is entered in a tournament in Woodbury on Saturday. Of course, a forecast of snow threatens the Saturday tournament.
The Irish host Eagan on Tuesday, April 19.
“I’m excited for the matches to see how we compete in the conference,” Beck said of the first two matches. “We’re not settled yet in doubles. We’ll see how the week goes, watch the matches and take notes to see who is playing well and who works well together to see if we change pairs of doubles partners, things like that.”
Beck believes she has solidified the singles lineup with four returning players. The doubles combinations could be a work in progress, especially early on as she learns her new team.
“Coming in not knowing the guys and their skills is like starting from scratch for me,” Beck said. “I’m trying to take it like a fresh start for everyone. Things are different. I think they are enjoying it. We’ve got through tryouts. It’s been great. Working with the boys is a different atmosphere. It’s very exciting for me.”
Senior Matt Baker returns as a captain and will play No. 1 singles. Juniors Will Holcomb and Stuart Hatlen are also captains. Holcomb likely will play second singles with Stuart Hatlen at No. 3.
Sean Hatlen will open at No. 4 singles.
“Hopefully, we’ll have a solid singles lineup and they’ll score some points for us,” Beck said. “The doubles will be just a mix. We’ll be going with what I think is the best match for us today. There is nothing set in stone.”
Seniors Dominic Olhoff, Blake Sowokinos and Matt Sowokinos, juniors Jordan Randall, Connor McGahn and Matt Stefanko and sophomores Grayson Freking, Tajirinere Onesirosan and Austin Peelor will also have chances to make their mark on the varsity lineup.
Beck is relying on the returning players to set expectations.
“I’m kind of going off what they say,” Beck said. “I think we should be better than last year. I think we should be competitive in the conference and be in the upper-middle of the pack. That’s what we’re going for.”