Zeke Lowney

Osceola High School tennis player Zeke Lowney.


 Last season was a tough one for the Osceola Chieftain tennis team. They certainly had some talent but they just did not have the depth on the roster that would have helped everyone be better. This season looked to be different with basically the entire roster returning from last year along with some quality additions to the squad.

“If I had a dollar for every time I have said, ‘I get to coach the best sport in the world and the best kids,’ I would be able to retire, but I would not want to because then I would not be able to coach the best kids playing the best sport,” Osceola tennis coach Beth Friedrichsen began as she sorted out her feelings about the lost season. “Tennis is unique in that it is an individual yet a team sport. This year we all had worked hard to get more guys out to play and those guys that were playing had worked hard in the off-season to get better. We were all ready and super excited for a fun season and since there has hardly been a drop of rain it was a perfect spring, a heartbreakingly perfect spring.”

Osceola had a quintet of seniors to build their 2020 season around. Hahns Huebsch and Jed Durand were two of the seniors preparing to make a lasting impression on the Middle Border conference.

“Huebsch and Durand have been a doubles team for four years and I clearly remember them as freshmen wanting to get better and to better understand the game and this was going to be their year,” Friedrichsen said. “They both had been working to get physically stronger and faster and they were ready to have a memorable senior tennis year. These two are also two of the smartest kids in the school. You put smarts together with their athletic ability and they were going to have a capstone season.”

“Osceola tennis has always been about the formation of a community around a sport that we all enjoy,” Huebsch said. “For some reason, the combination of spring’s newfound sunshine, a fun-loving group of kids, Prof’s (coach Friedrichsen) sarcasm, and a whole lot of tennis culminates into inescapable good vibes. I am sure that the season this year would have continued to foster a supportive and good-natured team, ready to compete, and ready to have a great time.”

Last year the tennis team got a shot in the arm when Zeke Lowney and Colin Krentz decided to give tennis a try after competing in other spring sports.

“Zeke Lowney and Colin Krentz came to us last year and I know that they both wish they would have made the shift from track about two years earlier, but at least they figured it out,” Friedrichsen said. “Zeke had a bummer of a year with his knee injury (in football) and he was very conscientious about his rehabilitation so that he would be able to play tennis. I was so looking forward to taking Colin’s excitement and new found passion and letting him just have a great spring. I really am grateful for the time I did have with Colin, he is an intense young man who is enjoyable to spend time with.”

“I was really looking forward to this tennis season,” Krentz said. “Oscar (De Roeck), our foreign exchange student, was really good and it would have been fun to see what he could do. Jed and Hahns have been amazing leaders and I am sad that the freshmen will not have tennis memories with them to learn, grow, and have fun playing tennis. Zeke and I were finally coming into our own with tennis after joining halfway through last season and it would have been fun to compete at the high level that our conference offers.”

De Roeck came to Osceola as an exchange student for his senior year. He is very athletic and helped the Chieftain basketball team during the winter sports season.

“Oscar came to us from Belgium and when he came all he wanted to do was play basketball, we did not know the tennis skills that he had,” Friedrichsen said. “It is a real bummer that he was not able to compete against other players in the Middle Border. It was something that we all were looking forward to. Oscar played tennis beautifully and he also was so kind and friendly to everyone. He spent a great deal of time shoveling off court one because he was so excited to play tennis.”

The tennis season that might have been will only show up in the record book as an asterisk with the note ‘canceled due to the coronavirus’ as the explanation. It will take the tennis coaches and athletes a long time to get over their lost season.

“We were looking forward to one of our best seasons in a long time,” Durand noted. “This year our preseason meetings were promising; we had an exciting number of new freshmen and sophomores show up along with a healthy amount of returning upperclassmen, some of whom had committed to individual indoor practices over the winter and all of whom were excited and ready to hit the courts. I am absolutely gutted that we missed out on this year (and the chance) to show other teams what we’ve got, and to demonstrate to the freshmen what Osceola tennis is all about — family. The last three spring seasons have held some of the best moments, experiences, and friendships of my life, and I’ve grown so much as a result of my membership. I know for a fact that others on the team feel the same. I hope that Osceola tennis continues to be a team for anyone and everyone. What would have been goes so much deeper than just how many wins we would have racked up this season, and I don’t feel as though just a few sentences could accurately portray what Osceola boys tennis stands for and what it means to its players and coaches.”

With so much sadness of losing tennis and all of the other spring sports we have to eventually turn the page. Yes, we can dwell on what could have been for a while yet but eventually we need to look at next season.

“Having a positive attitude is the next step,” Friedrichsen said. “There is a great group of junior boys that we have coming up next year. Jackson Dvorak and Travis Jennings have always been a super fun doubles team to work with and watch. Brayden Thomas is also a really hard worker that is intelligent and “gets” the game. They are also some of the nicest kids in the school. Now we just need the courts to open up so we can safely play tennis. We are also excited about all the freshmen guys that were excited about playing. I hope that everyone stays safe and we don’t rush into making mistakes. This has been a very painful spring and I would hate for the pain to continue.”

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