The Burnsville girls tennis team keeps reaching new heights.
The Blaze had a program-best 18 wins this fall (18-5 overall) and went 8-1 in the South Suburban Conference, taking second behind No. 9-ranked Lakeville South.
Burnsville ended the season ranked No. 10 in the state in Class 2, and one can only wonder if the Blaze would be competing in the state tournament if the team was in a different section?
Section 6AA is very strong at the top with the likes of No. 4 Edina, No. 6 Benilde-St. Margaret’s and No. 7 Blake in the field. The Blaze were seeded No. 4 and opened section team play with wins over Apple Valley (7-0) and Minneapolis Washburn (7-0) in the first two rounds, before falling to Edina in the semifinals (7-0).
Edina was upset by Blake in the section title match. So there will be no Hornets in the state team tourney. Edina has won 21 of the last 22 state titles.
The Section 6AA singles and doubles tournaments ended Oct. 18. The Blaze went 2-2 in singles and 3-2 in doubles.
Senior Sami Bowlby and junior Addie Bowlby reached the semifinals in doubles for Burnsville, before losing a tough three-setter to Annie Klemmensen and Emmy Inderieden of Edina (6-4, 5-7, 6-2).
The Bowlby sisters won in straight sets in the first two rounds; 6-0, 6-4 over Saddie Lund and Kamryn Halley of St. Louis Park and 6-2, 6-2 over Abbey Johns and Melina Peters of Bloomington Jefferson.
Seniors Ema Handzija and Savannah Islam went 1-1 in doubles play. They won 6-0, 6-0 over Jam VeVang and Miranda Eisenzimmer of Minneapolis Edison in the first round, before falling 6-2, 6-1 to Kate Miller and Ana Martinez of Edina.
In singles, juniors Ashley King and Shawna Bruha competed for Burnsville. Both went 1-1.
King topped Abby Mattice of Minneapolis Southwest in the first round (6-0, 6-0), and the lost to Jeyasri Venkatasubrumani of Eastview (6-0, 6-0). Bruha started with a win over Pemola Wachungtsang of Eastview (6-2, 6-0), before falling to Molly Miller of Bloomington Kennedy (6-1, 6-0).
The last time Burnsville had a singles player or doubles team compete at state was in 2007. Niltooli Wilkins won the Class AA state singles title that year. She was runner-up the year before. Judy Wang also won a state singles title for the Blaze in 1997.
Burnsville has a 23-4 record in the SSC over the last three years. In 2019, the Blaze had a program-best 15 overall wins. The team finished 8-1 last year, but only played conference matches due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If Burnsville wants to stay competitive next year in the SSC and in Section 6AA, it will need to replace its three seniors, Sami Bowlby, Handzija and Islam. But there’s talent coming back, starting with Adddie Bowlby, King and Bruha.
Juniors Madisyn Krumholz, Iris Nelson and Lizzy Berger, sophomore Madison Malecha and ninth-graders Sid Handrahan, Avery Krumwiede and Bella Islam will likely see their roles increase next fall for the Blaze.
“Burnsville does not have a large program or year-round tournament players like most of the conference and section favorites,” Coach Ryan Haddorff said. “We have hard-working, coordinated, athletic players, who are team-oriented and strong competitors.
“The team has a lot of crossover with the basketball and hockey programs,” Haddorff added.