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Girls' tennis takes big step over course of 2009 season

Senior Justine Haukebo was one of the team's inspirational leaders as the Lakers' No. 2 singles player. She helped DL pick up six wins on the season. (Brian Basham/DL Newspapers)

There were leaps and bounds taken by the Detroit Lakes girls' tennis team this past season, after pulling off their first wins in a couple of years. But that wasn't enough for the ever-improving Laker squad.

After recording their first win in their first meet of the season -- following a winless 2008 -- the Lakers proceeded to play well consistently, to finish near .500 at 6-8.

The momentum shouldn't end with the end of 2009 either; rather, it could bolt through to 2010 and beyond, with a majority of the players back for another run next year.

"It's been an exciting year and it's looking brighter for the future," said DL head coach Kris Omberg. "It's just another year we are able to build up the program."

Junior Joelle Langworthy also broke a long drought by qualifying for the Section 8-2A individual playoffs, as well.

Langworthy, as well as a host of younger tennis players, will return. They maybe young, but they are not going to be green.

"We are young yet, but they will not seem like it with the experience they will have," Omberg said.

The Lakers will have to fill one big hole left by senior Justine Haukebo, who is a four-year starter.

Haukebo suffered through some losing seasons in her time as a Laker, so it was rewarding to have a breakout year like the Lakers had in 2009.

"Justine is one of the greatest kids on and off the court," Omberg said. "She is so competitive, but she is also so level-headed. That alone helps pushed her teammates. Justine is such a great inspirational leader, and we will miss that."

Singles was a strength for DL, as Langworthy held down the top slot and Haukebo the second.

Katie Anderson and Becca Ask also were solid at three and four.

Inexperience fell on the doubles teams, but they progressed throughout the season.

First-year players, sophomore Brianna Seebold and eighth grader India Fritz played well at the second doubles spot, while senior Ashley Syvertson made improvement after only starting to play tennis as a junior.

With off-season work planned already, the Lakers are looking to take that next step or two next season.

But it will be this past season which will be looked on as the launching pad when the Laker program does take off.