by Eric Oslund
On Sunday, Sept. 10, the Minnesota High School League released updated rankings for Class 2A of girls tennis, which featured the Elks tied for 10th in the state with Roseville. It also featured their No. 1 singles player Meagan Brown ranked third in the state as an individual.
Those rankings came on the back of a big 6-1 conference win over Maple Grove, who the Elks played for the conference championship a year ago.
Brown continued her strong season, defeating Maple Grove’s No. 1 singles player in two sets, 6-0 and 6-0. Riley Mathis won as the team’s No. 3 singles, but it didn’t look as though that would be the case right away. She lost her first set 6-0, but rebounded to win the final two sets 6-2 and 6-3. Sophie Riebel also lost her first set, at No. 4 singles, but responded the same way Mathis did, winning her final two sets 7-6 and 6-2.
Dee Dokken and Carmen Kaelke took the court as the Elks’ No. 1 doubles team and won their first set 6-4, but dropped the second by the same score. The match came down to the third and final set, and it was the team from Elk River coming away with a 6-2 win. The No. 2 doubles team of Sophie Wetherille and Lauren Conzet followed suit, losing their first set 6-2, but finishing of their second and third set with set victories of 6-1 and 6-2. Then there was the No. 3 doubles team of Kaitlin Tran and Emma Anderson, who had the best showing of Elk River’s doubles teams, winning their match in two straight sets, 6-2 and 6-1.
The Elks won a a total of four 3-set matches against Maple Grove, and three of those started out with a loss in the first set.
“It was a great match, much closer than the 6-1 score would indicate, but there might be a rematch for the conference title there later in the season,” head coach Randy Ronning said. “It was the ninth straight victory for the Elks, who seem to be a “never-count-us-out” team. And that’s just great.”
The girls did not have time to rest on that victory, though, as good as it was for the program, because they traveled up north to Duluth on Saturday, Sept. 9, to take on the No. 8 team in the state Duluth East, and the No. 2 team in the state Mahtomedi.
It’s always an important match up for the Elks when they take on Duluth East as the two are in the same section.
The home team controlled the match on the singles side of things this time around, winning three of the four, with the Elks’ only win coming in No. 1 singles. Brown went up against the No. 5 ranked singles player in the state Aili Hietala, and it was a match one would expect from two of the best Minnesota has to offer. Hietala took the first set by a score of 6-4, but then Brown rebounded to win the final two sets 6-3 and 6-3.
The Elks would have to win all three doubles matches if they hoped to come away with a victory, and they got the start they needed with their No. 1 doubles team of Paige Anderson and Dokken winning in two sets, 6-4 and 6-1.
Their No. 3 doubles pairing of Wetherille and Conzet were also able to come away with a win, but unfortunately the team’s No. 2 doubles couldn’t quite pull it off. The pairing of Kaelke and Mathis won their first set 7-6, but dropped the second set 7-5, and ran out of gas in the third set, falling 6-2.
Things would not get any easier for the Elks against the No. 2 team in the state, as they fell to Mahtomedi 6-1, with their lone win coming on the back of Brown, who took it in straight sets, 6-1 and 6-1.
The Elks 9-game win streak came to an end over the weekend after they dropped two matches, but they came against two of the best teams Minnesota has to offer. They are the type of teams the Elks will have to defeat come section and state tournament time later in the season, but for now this young group of Elks will look to those matches as a learning experience. Fix up the little things that went wrong, move on, and continue to get better.