It is hard to imagine a school with such a rich history of tennis as Blue Earth Area not having a boys tennis team, but that is precisely what almost occurred this spring.
At one point only five boys had signed up for the tennis team, and there was no coach hired.
"We just had no one with any tennis coaching background willing to take it on," BEA activities director Rob Norman says. "None of our many new teachers had any tennis coaching experience, either."
The eleven members of the 2012 Buccaneer tennis team are, front row, left to right; Hunter Myers, Jaron King, Chandler Kienitz, Trenton Stindtman and Tristan Drake. Back row, left to right; Martin Granados, Eric Purvis, Chance Andrews, Cole Klinksiek, Nick Lein and Ben Gettis.
So, Norman assigned the task to himself and set out recruiting kids to be on the team. A minimum of 10 are needed to field a full varsity squad and he made sure there were at least that many.
Then, last Monday, the first day of tennis practice, he found a coach as well.
"Terry Barnes agreed to coach the team," Norman says. "It felt good to be able to fire myself. The team will be much better off with someone with some actual knowledge of the sport."
Barnes has been the girls tennis coach for the past four seasons.
"It had not been my intention to coach the boys team, too," Barnes says. "But tennis here at Blue Earth Area has such a rich history that I felt I needed to help out and coach it."
Barnes was a Buccaneer tennis player under legendary coach Hal Schroeder, and was an unpaid assistant coach the year Schroeder took the team to the State Tournament.
"I just feel it is important to keep the program in place here," Barnes says.
On his second day of practice last Tuesday, the new Buc boys tennis coach says he was still learning the names of the all the team members.
"We have a pretty good group here," he says. "But they are young and lack a lot of experience."
The team does not have any seniors on its roster. There are just two juniors, Eric Purvis and Cole Klinksiek.
Then, there are four sophomores; Hunter Myers, Ben Gettis, Tristan Drake and Chance Andrews.
The team is rounded out with three ninth-graders, Martin Granados, Jaron King and Nick Lein; and two eighth graders, Chandler Kienitz and Tristan Stindtman.
The Buc tennis team was hit hard by graduation last year with quite a few seniors having many years of varsity experience. That includes Wade Wilhelmi, Aaron Wilhelmi, Hans Kittleson, Riley Holmseth and Colan Surratt.
Coach Barnes says the second day of practice was way too early to be able to know who is going to play at what spots. But, with 10 holes to fill and only 11 players on the team, he expects everyone will see varsity playing time.
"We have a few kids out who have seen some varsity action over the past couple of seasons," the coach notes. "I fully expect that Hunter (Myers), Eric (Purvis), Chance (Andrews) and Nick (Lein) will help lead us as they have the most experience."
But, he quickly adds, this will be a full team effort.
"I know these kids will give their best effort, and give it everything they've got," Barnes says. "Our goal is to improve throughout the season; if we do this then we can call it a successful year."
The Bucs' year starts out right away two South Central Conference matchups. First, they have a match at St. Peter on Tuesday, April 10. Thursday, April 12 is the next contest, listed as a home match against St. James.
After that is another SCC rival, New Ulm there, on April 19.
"We have a tough schedule," Coach Barnes says. "But, we are going to play hard, improve our skill level and have a little fun, also. I think we will have a pretty good year."