Delich always looking for ways to improve

Eveleth-Gilbert junior Lydia Delich has been named the All-Iron Range Girls' Tennis Player of the Year by the Mesabi Tribune and the Grand Rapids Herald-Review.

EVELETH — Eveleth-Gilbert junior Lydia Delich is always looking for ways to elevate her game.

Whether it’s adapting to a more aggressive style of tennis or making sure she’s mentally sharp in the big moments, Delich will always find a way to improve day in and day out.

Making her fourth appearance at the Class A Individual State Tournament this year, Delich played up until the final day of the season, taking fourth place and finishing among the best Minnesota has to offer.

As a leader for the Golden Bears on the court, Delich guided Eveleth-Gilbert to an appearance in the Section 7A finals in their last year before combining with Virginia.

For her efforts on and off the court this year, Delich has been named the All-Iron Range Girls’ Tennis Player of the Year by the Mesabi Tribune and the Grand Rapids Herald-Review.

Delich and the Golden Bears wanted to make the final year as a program a special one. While they were just shy of heading to state as a team, it’s clear they were a talented team with Delich crediting all of her teammates for coming in ready to work at the beginning of the year.

“Our goal as a team was just to play our hardest,” Delich siad. “We were hoping to have a better season than the year before. With it being the last year as Eveleth-Gilbert, it meant a little bit more and I think we were all happy with how far we came this year.”

With no seniors on their roster for the second year in a row, the role of leader was handed down to younger players. With her natural ability and willingness to help her teammates out, Delich believes she fits in naturally when it comes to helping others.

“It was a lot of fun being a leader out there. I felt like I’ve had to be a leader just with how young we were as a team. I’ve been a leader in other sports as well so I am a little used to it. I enjoy it and it’s a good feeling knowing your teammates trust you with that. I want to try and help others with their game and I think it’s a good fit.

“Last year we had the same exact team almost and everybody has gotten so much better. We came in with that mindset of working as hard as we could this year and I think every girl showed that they wanted to do that.”

Bears head coach Jessica Kralich says Delich does more than just help others on the court. Her off the court presence and positive outlook has helped shape the team as well.

“She just has a positive attitude on everything that we do,” Kralich said. “Every conversation we have as a team before a match, she always puts something positive in there. She tells the girls, win or lose, to go out and have fun. For her to have that mentality at this age is huge.”

Competing in her fourth state tournament this year, Delich always finds success on the court, even as her game continues to shift and evolve each season.

“I definitely come in more confident each time I make it to state,” the junior said. “I can tell myself that I’ve been here before and some of these girls have never made it here. My mental game has improved in that way and I think my game on the court has changed a lot since my seventh grade year.

“I started off playing a more defensive game and now I’m more on my offensive side. I’m working to get more topspin on my shot, hitting better serves, trying out different spins. Every year I’m trying to get better at something with my game.”

As her game never looks the same as the year before, Kralich says Delich’s ability to learn and take advice is key in her constant improvement.

“Any time you show her something or tell her to try something new, she’s willing to do it. She takes direction and instruction from anybody willing to give it to her. She’s adaptable and she never wants to stop learning. She takes all that tennis knowledge and fills her brain with it every day at practice.”

Delich credits her family, coaches and prior instructors for her success so far. That includes many of her siblings who also played the game from a young age, Hibbing coach Gary Conda who coached Delich in 10-and-under tennis, her father who helped her get started with the sport and coaches Dean Edstrom and Kralich who have pushed her throughout junior high and high school.

“My siblings I know are always looking to help me. Every time we practice together, we’re trying to get better and improve each other’s games. All of my coaches too have been big influences. Everybody that works at Virginia Indoors and my high school coaches and my dad, they’ve all helped me a lot throughout the years.”

Delich says this offseason she’ll keep working to improve her game in more ways than one.

“I’m going to keep working on my footwork. That’s a huge part of anyone’s game. I also want to develop more of a kick serve here so I’ve been working on that. And just improving my mental game too. That’s always so important to have and it can be a big help in those tougher matches.”

Next year as a senior, Delich will lead the new Rock Ridge girls’ tennis team in the program’s first year. With the possibility of the combination moving the two teams from Class A to Class AA, her last high school season should be an exciting one according to Kralich.

“She’ll be a senior and she’ll still be our top player,” Kralich said. “I know she can lead these girls so I think it’ll be a great way to see how far she’s come as a senior. Getting one last year to work with her should be a lot of fun.”

For Delich, getting a brand new experience in her senior season is an opportunity she looks forward to.

“It’ll be different for sure. Different teams and different players. Different girls on the team. I’m looking forward to the new competition and just bringing all the girls together from both schools to see what we can do. It should make my senior season exciting.”

In addition to Delich, the All-Iron Range Girls’ Tennis Team includes: Katelyn Torrel, Anna Beaudette and Julia Lindseth from Eveleth-Gilbert; Ava Fink, Ella Lamppa and Paige Maki from Virginia; Abigail Sullivan, Annika Lundell, Claire Rewertz and Mercedes Furin from Hibbing and Emily Hill and Franziska Teichmann from Grand Rapids/Greenway.

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