Fairmont - When Fairmont head coach Kathy Krezel took over coaching the girls tennis team last fall, she wasn't sure what to expect.
After guiding the Cardinals to the Section 3A team finals and a 16-4 dual-meet record in her second season, her fellow section coaches voted her the Section 3A Coach of the Year.
"It was actually quite humbling to hear that they had done that," said Krezel. "Last year I came in and didn't know any of the girls, and had my assistant Cindy Martins. But we learned a lot as the year went on."
SECTION’S BEST — Fairmont girls tennis mentor Kathy Krezel, shown draping a Section 3A team silver medal around Cardinal netter Aubrey Green’s neck at the Swanson Tennis Center in St. Peter on Oct. 9, was selected as the 2013 Section 3A girls tennis coach of the year. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)
After finishing 10-6 last year, and with more experience and a better understanding of her team this season, Krezel and her players set high hopes and nearly achieved them.
"This year, coming in and knowing the girls and knowing how they play was really helpful," said Krezel. "But they are a very coachable group of players. They take suggestions and ideas, and they will work hard to implement them. It makes it really fun."
The Cardinals reached the Section 3A team finals, losing to St. James 6-1. The season is yet to be over though for Krezel as seniors Aubrey Green, Missy Viesselman and Allison Moeller qualified for next week's Class A individual state meet in Minneapolis.
"I think that the biggest difference between this year's team and last year's is the varsity girls' experience in the leadership spots," said Krezel. "They were younger last year, but we asked them to step up and play big roles, and I think that made it easier for them this year to fill those same roles. Our experience helped us out a lot this season."
And the players weren't the only ones learning from their experiences the last two seasons. Krezel thinks that the future looks bright for the Cardinal tennis program.
"I feel like even though I've learned a lot these last two seasons about coaching, that I still have a lot to learn," said Krezel. "But it makes it worthwhile when the players are excited about practice and excited to get better each day."
Krezel knows that with younger players gaining varsity experience this season as well, the team has a chance to continue its success for seasons to come.
"I came to the summer tennis program this past summer to help out, and it surprised me to see how many players come out and really seem to enjoy playing the game," said Krezel. "I think that our success this year helped our girls to have confidence in themselves that they could win even if they were behind. That success will help even more younger players get excited about playing."