It was experience versus youth, and in the case of a season-opening match, experience showed in Chanhassen's 7-0 win over Chaska in girls tennis Aug. 28 at Chaska High School.
Returning eight players to the line-up, many in positions familiar to them, the Storm won the big points in close matches, and made adjustments in-match to turn the tide at other positions.
"We play a lot of challenge matches against each other our first three days of tryouts, really getting used to match speed, so I think that really helps us out when we play other teams early in the season," Chanhassen senior Bella Plath said.
Senior Lauren Spear, on varsity since ninth grade, the Storm's returning No. 1 singles player, was down 6-5 in the first set, but ended up winning 7-6 in a tie-breaker. She took six of the eight games in the second set, defeating Chaska's Ireland Altenburg, who moves up from third to first singles.
Sam Von Rentzell, returning top of the singles line-up player for the Storm, down a set to Chaska's Ellen Adams, rallied for a 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 win in a match that lasted almost two hours.
Returning Chanhassen players Natasha Gauerke (6-2, 6-3) and Alaina Gerding (6-1, 6-0) won over Reese Williams and Regan Engman, who played in the doubles line-up for Chaska in 2019.
Tighter first sets at first and third doubles were won more easily in second sets by Plath and Ellie Rathbun, and varsity newcomers, freshman Tegan Gauerke and seventh grader Keagan Van Asten.
Plath and Rathbun, who spent the 2019 season together at second doubles, won 6-4, 6-1 over Chaska's Kendall Thom and Maddie Margraf -- both new to varsity.
"We were more aggressive at the net in the second set. I just feel like I was super nervous and once the nerves were gone after the first set I started to play better," Plath said. "It definitely helps me having someone on the court to keep me calm. I think obviously (Ellie and I are) comfortable with each other. I think we really like being around each other. She's so nice, such a great teammate and we have a good time playing together."
Senior Sara Thomas and Savannah George won over Chaska's Kaitlyn Wisdorf and Natalie Roth (6-1, 6-2) at second doubles with Gauerke and Van Asten victorious 7-5, 6-1 over Chaska's McKenna Thom and Taylor Dorn.
Chanhassen (1-0) plays its first home match at 5 p.m. versus St. Louis Park on Tuesday, Sept. 1. Chaska and Bloomington Jefferson meet at the same time and date on the Hawks' home courts.
Plath said no season goals really have been established yet. They are taking it day by day, excited to have the chance to play together this fall after Plath had her softball season robbed in the spring.
"We just want to have a good time. I know I was really excited my best friend, McKenna (Aker), made the varsity team. We've really wanted to be on the same team for a while. So, I think it's just becoming close as a team, getting better each day," Plath said.