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Saturday, October 18, 2014
Tennis (G)

State Girls' Tennis Tournament Preview

By MSHSL - Minneapolis

Breck School of Golden Valley in Class A and Edina in Class AA have qualified to defend their respective team titles at the 2014 State Girls' Tennis Tournament.

The Edina Hornets are looking for their 18th consecutive and 33rd overall title (including the three Edina East won when there were two Edina high schools). The Mustangs of Breck School are in the hunt for their second consecutive and third overall championship.

Both the singles and doubles champions return in Class AA. Edina senior Caitlyn Merzbacher is looking for her second consecutive singles crown, and the Rochester Mayo duo of seniors Kylie Bower and Kate Rosenow are in the hunt for their third doubles crown. They claimed their first in 2011 before winning again last year.

New champions will emerge in both the singles and doubles tournament in Class A.

The 2014 tournament will be conducted Tuesday, Oct. 21, through Friday, Oct. 24 — Class AA at the Baseline Tennis Center on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis and Class A at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis. Team competition is scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by singles and doubles individual competition Thursday and Friday.

Class A Highlights

The Breck School Mustangs return to defend their 2013 title. If they win it would be their second consecutive and third overall title. The Mustangs have seven players with previous tournament experience.

The three other returning teams are Rochester Lourdes, Staples Motley, and St. James. Rochester Lourdes placed second last year and Staples Motley, which includes students from Verndale, followed in third. St. James, which includes students from Butterfield-Odin, finished in fourth place. The Class A team tournament is not seeded.

The Class A team quarterfinal pairings are: (Section 2) Blue Earth Area vs. (Section 3) St. James; (Section 6) Minnewaska Area of Glenwood vs. (Section 7) Virginia; (Section 5) Holy Family Catholic of Victoria vs. (Section 8) Staples Motley; and (Section 1) Rochester Lourdes vs. (Section 4) Breck School.

All eight of the qualifying teams were ranked in the final coaches’ poll: Breck School, No. 1; St. James, No. 3; Holy Family Catholic, No. 4; Rochester Lourdes, No. 5; Blue Earth Area, No. 6; Staples Motley, No. 7; Minnewaska Area, No. 8; and Virginia, No. 10.

Top-seeded senior Danielle Gannon of Holy Family Catholic is the highest returning singles qualifier. She earned runner-up honors last year and was ranked No. 1 in the final coaches’ poll. The opening round will be key for Gannon as she faces off against senior Maddie Muotka of Waseca. Muotka, who did not compete in the singles event last year, was ranked No. 2 in the coaches’ poll.

Two other players return from the 2013 singles field. Sophomore Julie Smith of Park Rapids Area lost in the championship quarterfinals and senior Karleigh Wolff of Blue Earth Area bowed out in the consolation quarterfinals.

Senior Brylee Seitz of Virginia was one of three qualifiers who made the move from doubles to singles this year. In 2013, she earned the consolation title with Taylor Gunderson. Seitz is seeded No. 2 this year and was also ranked No. 4 in the final coaches’ poll.

Senior Jada Hoffman of Minnewaska Area and senior Julia Boeve of St. James also made the leap from doubles to singles. Both lost in the consolation round of the 2013 doubles tournament.

Four additional singles qualifiers were ranked in the coaches’ final poll: Natalie Cahill of Pine City, No. 5; sophomore Izabella Edin of Staples Motley, No. 8; Cindy Li of Cotter of Winona, No. 9; and junior Carlie Brandt of LeSueur-Henderson, No. 10. Li is seeded No. 3 this year and Cahill is seeded No. 4.

Junior Kendall Kozikowski and sophomore Grace Zumwinkle of Breck School are the top duo returning to the doubles competition. They are looking to improve on last year’s runner-up showing.

Another duo to watch this year is senior Katelyn Rice and sophomore Cora Delich of Eveleth-Gilbert. Rice placed third with Alexia Brascugli in 2013 and she was ranked No. 5 in the final coaches’ poll.

In addition to Kozikowski and Zumwinkle, two other complete teams return to this year’s event. Senior Linsey Thisius and junior Kia Legred of United South Central of Wells lost in the championship quarterfinals. Seniors Kalley Spreiter and Kennedy Sommerfeld of Litchfield lost in the consolation quarterfinals.

The final three returning competitors are senior Nikki Edin of Staples Motley, junior Aubrey Eckstrom of St. James, and junior Makenna Hanson of Minnewaska Area. Edin, who will compete with senior Grace Wolhowe, placed sixth with Kelsey Zetah in 2013. Eckstrom and Hanson both lost in the consolation semifinals last year. Eckstrom will team up with sophomore Ashley Frederickson this year and Hanson will partner with sophomore Joelle Thorfinnson.

Class AA Highlights

Seven teams return from last year’s field, including the long-running defending champions from Edina. The Hornets, ranked No. 1 in the final coaches’ association poll, return with nine players with 2013 tournament experience and are seeking their 18th consecutive team title. Edina’s 17 straight titles from 1997 to 2013 is a national record.

The six other returning teams are Minnetonka, Rochester Mayo, Prior Lake, St. Cloud Tech, Mahtomedi, and Mounds View. The Minnetonka Skippers placed second last year, and they were followed by Rochester Mayo in third and Prior Lake in fourth. The St. Cloud Tech Tigers earned fifth-place honors and Mahtomedi placed sixth. Mounds View lost in the consolation semifinals.

All eight of the Class AA qualifiers were ranked in the final poll. After Edina, the other ranked teams were: Prior Lake, No. 2; Minnetonka, No. 3; Mahtomedi, No. 6; Rochester Mayo, No. 7; St. Cloud Tech, No. 8; Mounds View, No. 9; and Princeton, No. 10.

The Class AA team quarterfinal pairings are: (No. 1 Seed – Section 6) Edina vs. (Section 5) Mounds View; (No. 4 Seed – Section 4) Mahtomedi vs. (No. 5 Seed – Section 1) Rochester Mayo; (No. 2 Seed – Section 3) Prior Lake vs. (Section 7) Princeton; and (No. 3 Seed – Section 2) Minnetonka vs. (Section 8) St. Cloud Tech.

Twelve of the 16 singles qualifiers, including three of the top four seeds, have 2013 tournament experience. Edina senior Caitlyn Merzbacher, who is the No. 1 seed, returns to defend her title. She was ranked No. 3 in this year’s final coaches’ poll. No. 3-seeded sophomore Sophia Reddy, a ninth-grader from Edina, placed third in the doubles competition, and No. 4-seeded ninth-grader Isabella Lambert of Minnetonka placed fourth in the singles tournament. Reddy was ranked No. 8 in this year’s final coaches’ poll and Lambert was No. 5.

Chanhassen junior Hayley Haakenstad is the No. 2 seed this year and was No. 1 in the coaches’ poll. She did not qualify for the 2013 tournament. Mounds View sophomore Alexandra Kopiecki also returns this year. She is looking to improve on last year’s sixth-place showing.

Four of this year’s qualifiers lost in the championship quarterfinals last year: sophomore Taylor Tarrolly of St. Cloud Tech, ninth-grader Meagan Brown of Elk River, ninth-grader Olivia Paradise of Mahtomedi, and senior Malini Wijesinghe of Apple Valley. Wijesinghe was No. 7 in the coaches poll.

Ninth-grader Katelyn Tarrolly of St. Cloud Tech and senior Briana Hartmann lost in the consolation quarterfinals of the 2013 singles tournament.

In addition to Reddy, two other competitors made the jump from doubles to singles. Prior Lake sophomore Savanna Crowell earned the consolation title last year and St. Paul Central junior Zoe Klass-Warch placed second.

Seniors Kylie Boyer and Kate Rosenow of Rochester Mayo return to defend their doubles title. If they win it would be their third championship; they claimed their first in 2011. Boyer was also ranked No. 10 in this year’s final coaches’ poll.

Senior Jane Fraley of The Blake School of Minneapolis, junior Theresa Tebon of Minnetonka, and junior Chloe Hall of Prior Lake are three other players to watch. Fraley earned the consolation title in the singles tournament in 2013 and will partner with sophomore Libby Rickeman this year. Fraley was ranked No. 4 in the final coaches’ poll and Rickeman was No. 9.

Tebon placed fourth in the doubles event with Brianna Smith last year and will team up with ninth-grader Anna Letto this year. Hall earned the consolation title with Savanna Crowell in 2013 and will partner with junior Grayce Petersen this year.

Only one other complete tandem returns from the 2013 field. Mahtomedi senior Hanna Shands and sophomore Emily Cooper lost in the consolation semifinals. 

Two of the remaining four returning qualifiers lost in last year’s championship quarterfinals. Senior Melissa Barry of Eastview of Apple Valley will compete with ninth-grader Taylor Kopfer and senior Jill Kedrowski of St. Cloud Tech will partner with senior Samantha Eisenreich. Eisenreich lost in the consolation quarterfinals of the 2013 tournament.

Heidi Hannula, a senior from Coon Rapids, is the final returning qualifier. She lost in the consolation quarterfinals last year and will team up with senior Andrea Rehm this year.

Seeding

This was the third year that the Class AA team and both Class A and Class AA singles tournaments were seeded. For the team competition, the eight coaches of the section champions logged onto a special page of the League Web site and each coach ranked the other teams one through seven. The highest and lowest rankings for each team were discarded, leaving five rankings for each team. From those rankings, the teams were seeded one through five. From there, a blind draw was conducted to determine the opponents for the top three seeds. Seeds four and five are always paired without a draw.

The process for seeding the singles competitors was a bit more complicated. All 16 state tournament qualifiers in each class were eligible for seeding after coaches submitted players’ records with scores and rationale for ranking. After coaches voted, a computer program tabulated the final seeding with point values for each vote (four points for No. 1; three points for No. 2; two points for No. 3; and one for No. 4).

From there, the top four seeds were placed into the bracket, with Nos. 1 and 4 in the top half and Nos. 2 and 3 in the bottom half. Then any remaining section champions were placed in unfilled nodes before section runners-up were randomly selected and placed into the bracket. The last four runners-up randomly selected were placed in the bracket against the four seeded players, with the No. 1 seed being the last qualifier to receive an opponent. If two individuals from the same section were seeded, they were placed in opposite halves of the bracket. Similarly, during the random draws no two individuals from the same section were placed in the same half of the bracket.

The Schedule

All Class A competition will be conducted at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis. All Class AA competition will be conducted at the Baseline Tennis Center on the University of Minnesota campus.

Team quarterfinals will be held at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 21. Team consolation semifinals will be played at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Team championship semifinals will be played at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, the consolation championships will be played at noon, the third-place matches will follow at 2 p.m., and the championship matches will be played at 4 p.m.

First-round singles matches will be played at 8 a.m. on Thursday followed by noon championship quarterfinal and consolation quarterfinal matches. Consolation and championship semifinal matches will be played at 8 a.m. on Friday, followed by consolation championship, third-place and championship matches at 11:30 a.m.

First-round doubles matches will be played at 10 a.m. on Thursday. Consolation quarterfinal and championship quarterfinal matches will follow at 2 p.m. Consolation and championship semifinal matches will be played at 8 a.m. Friday, followed by the consolation championship, third-place and championship matches at 11:30 a.m.

 


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