Girls tennis builds confidence for post-season

Girls tennis team introduces themselves to Cretin at Cretin-Derham Hall High School on Sept. 23. The team has been working hard at practice to prepare for conference matches like this.

Photo by Brady Lau

Girls tennis team introduces themselves to Cretin at Cretin-Derham Hall High School on Sept. 23. The team has been working hard at practice to prepare for conference matches like this.

Brady Lau, Social Media Editor

The girls tennis team has gained many victories this fall, most notably against the 34th ranked Rochester Century and 42nd ranked White Bear Lake. The team has been doing especially well against those from their conference. These victories have earned them the 23rd spot on the Minnesota girls tennis computer rankings website. Despite having received losses from (ranked three) Mounds View and (ranked seven) Mahtomedi, the team remains optimistic for the upcoming post-season.

The season began very abruptly for the girls, only having a few practice days before their first tournament. On top of that, head coach Dave Kahl was absent from the first week of practice and the first tournament due to his breakthrough case of COVID-19. Junior varsity coach Jay Knutson became the temporary head coach and led the team to a 3rd place finish.

Senior Sophia Heidtke explained how coach’s absence affected the girls performance, “at the beginning of the season, the team was kind of chaotic, because our coach wasn’t there.”

Upon Kahl’s return, the team worked on improving their skills. Drills conducted at practices built the foundation for solid tennis that would win matches later on. Unfortunately, the work put in was not enough to prevent losses against top ten tennis teams in the state. One tough loss in particular was against Mahtomedi. Many matches went to third sets and were only decided by a few games.

With our lineup this year, I think that we have a decent shot at beating one or both of these teams, but stress will be high. And stress and tennis don’t mix well. ”

— Addy Anderson

Heidtke said she was happy with how she played that day because she came back after losing. The match ended in a third set loss and a 2-5 loss as a team.

Kahl used the few practices the team had to develop skills in his players. Over the past month, the players have improved all aspects of their game, working hard and achieving results along the way. Such results consist of close wins against formidable opponents.

Senior manager Bo McBride said the team put in a lot of effort during practice. And that “they’re going out there and getting better.”

On top of practices, the team has been getting together off the courts as well. Occasionally the girls will enjoy pasta together or have a bonfire at a captain’s house. Doubles is very chemistry reliant, teams that know each other better and have more experience playing together perform much better. Now that the team has gotten to know each other, they are more comfortable playing together.

McBride said, “Teams have gotten into the flow of things with their partners” when comparing the confidence before their second tournament to their first. This comes from the team’s aforementioned third place finish at their tournament during Kahl’s absence.

Now that the end of the season is just around the corner, the team is beginning to finalize their lineups before the section tournament in early October. If the teams win the highly competitive section 4AA, defeating the likes of Mounds View and Mahtomedi, they will go to state and competing at Baseline tennis center at the University of Minnesota

Senior captain Abby Anderson said in regards to possibly playing Mahtomedi and Mounds View in sections, “I think that we have a decent shot at beating one or both of these teams, but stress will be high.”

However, the season is not finished yet. The girls will face another two challenges with Roseville on Sept. 28 at home and East Ridge on Sept. 30 at East Ridge High School.