For the first time in nine years, the Prior Lake girls tennis tennis team will not be playing in a section title match.
The Lakers ended the team portion of the season Oct. 4 with a 5-2 loss at second-seeded Orono in Section 2AA North Sub-Section play. Third-seeded Prior Lake opened the playoffs Oct. 3 with a 5-2 win over seventh-seeded Mound Westonka.
The Lakers finished with a 10-9 overall mark (5-4 in the South Suburban Conference).
Prior Lake lost in the Section 3AA title match to Rosemount in 2011. The Lakers won the Section 3AA crown the next three years, before getting moved to Section 2AA in 2015 where the team won titles in that season and in 2016.
Prior Lake lost to Minnetonka in the section title match in both 2017 and 2018.
So it's been a rebuilding season for the Lakers. Prior Lake went into this fall having won seven of the last eight SSC crowns with just one loss in those eight years and that was to Eagan in 2016.
The Lakers went into this season with a 70-1 record in SSC play since 2011.
The Section 2AA singles and doubles tournaments are next for Prior Lake. The first three rounds will be played Oct. 12 at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. The semifinals and title matches are set for Oct. 15 in St. Peter.
Prior Lake has had a lot of success in doubles play the last three years. Last year, senior Nic Keller and then-senior Charlotte Bowles were the state runner-ups. Bowles and Taylor Jackson won the state doubles crown in 2017, as did Jackson and Savanna Crowell in 2016.
The Lakers have had at least two doubles teams at state the past three seasons.
Meanwhile, in the win over Mound Westonka, Prior Lake swept all three doubles matches. Keller and eighth-grader Ella Joesting cruised at the No. 1 spot (6-1, 6-2), while ninth-grader Alyssa Lam and senior Gabby Betzold won at No. 2 (6-2, 7-6) and junior Grace Mahowald and sophomore Liza Ginzburg rolled at No. 3 (6-0, 6-2).
In singles, junior Kelly Wu won at the No. 2 spot for the Lakers (6-1, 6-2), while junior Katelyn Lam was victorious at No. 3 (6-2, 6-1).
Against Orono, both Lakers' wins came in doubles. Keller and and eighth-grader Tianna Houske won a top spot (7-6, 6-1), while Wu and Joesting won at No. 2 (7-5, 7-6).
This year’s Class AA state tournament is set for Oct. 22-25 at the Baseline Tennis Center in Minneapolis. The team tourney is the first two days, followed by the singles and doubles tournaments the next two days.
Edina has won the last two state team championships and 22 of the last 23. The Lakers were state runner-up to Edina in both 2014 and 2015. Prior Lake was also fifth at state in 2016, fourth in 2013 and third in 2012.