Devils and ‘Jackets set for tennis rematch

HIBBING — Since a 6-1 loss to Virginia at the beginning of the season, the Hibbing High School girls tennis team has picked up some nice wins over Duluth East and Eveleth-Gilbert.

The Bluejackets have also been working hard to improve their games at the same time.

Just how far Hibbing has come will be determined today when they travel to Virginia to take on the Blue Devils in a 4 p.m. dual meet at the Quad City Tennis Center.

Bluejacket coach Gary Conda saw what he needed to see in that win over the Golden Bears, so he went to work on correcting those flaws.

“Since our last match, we’ve made some headway,” Conda said. We did a few more doubles drills than we normally do. It’s mostly moving the feet and learning to volley with our feet instead of just swinging at the ball.”

The same can be said for the singles players.

“We’ve been trying to work on hitting angles and working on our outside T shots,” Conda said. “We’re getting a little better on our drop shots and lobs. Sometimes, we have to move people up and back.

“People are weaker moving forward than side-to-side.”

Now, the Bluejackets have to put those skills to use in a match. Getting his team to do that is easier said than done.

“We’ll see if we can actually execute some of these new ideas,” Conda said. “I don’t know if they will. It’s gone through my mind that they’re not confident in the new shots, so they will be hesitant to use it in a match.

“I figured this was a good time to start. Let’s try to get better. We have nothing to lose. I’m hoping they try it once or twice. If they’re successful, they will be able to use it in other matches later on.”

Conda will see how effective these new techniques will be against Virginia.

How will Hibbing turn that first match around?

“We had several close matches that day,” Conda said. “I think we’ll turn around two or three of those. I’m confident we’ll play better this time around. That’s not to say Virginia hasn’t improved since that first meeting, but I’m confident this time around.”

Conda said he won’t make any special lineup changes for this match.

“I think we can at any position,” he said. “I’m not ruling out all seven spots where we have a chance to win. We might lose all seven spots, but we’ll go after it. There won’t be any easy matches for either team.

“It’s close. I’m playing for seven points. I’m not playing for four. There’s no reason to strengthen four spots and give away three. That’s not the way to play during the middle of the season.”

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