The Shakopee girls tennis team was hoping to compete for a South Suburban Conference title this fall while continuing to grow the program.
The Sabers did just that, finishing 6-3 in the tough SSC and winning double-digit matches overall.
All the players on this team stepped up to make themselves better and their teammates better each day,” Shakopee coach Jenny Larsen said. “Whether it was a practice or a match day, they worked hard to learn and grow as a player and learner of the game. They all consistently impressed me as the season went on.
“I could see their confidence and knowledge of the game build with each practice and match they played,” Larsen added. This group of girls is so excited to learn more about the sport and how they can be successful. They really are students of the game.”
The Sabers won their first playoff match Oct. 5, earning a 7-0 victory over Chaska to improve to 10-5 overall. Shakopee earned the No. 3 seed in Section 2AA’s north subsection behind top-ranked Minnetonka and Eden Prairie.
The top-two remaining teams from the north and south subsections compete in the semifinals and then title match Oct. 12 at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.
Minnetonka is the overwhelming favorite having won 11 of the last 13 Section 2AA titles, including the last three.
The Section 2AA singles and doubles tournaments begin Oct. 15 with the semifinals and title matches for both set for Oct. 19 in St. Peter.
Section 2AA is one of the toughest in the state, while SSC is also garnering a reputation as a deep, talented league with two teams ranked in the Class AA top 10, No. 8 Lakeville South and No. 9 Burnsville.
The Sabers losses in conference were to both Lakeville South and Burnsville, as well as Prior Lake. Lakeville South won the league crown with a 9-0 mark.
“The regular season provided our girls with very competitive and hard-fought matches,” Larsen said. “The girls found themselves in many close matches where they needed to try different playing strategies, play through adversity, and play from both being ahead and behind. The girls continued to learn and grow in the areas of the sport they had control over — their effort, their attitudes and their integrity.
“At the end of the regular season, the girls played seven matches in a row and consistently put forth full effort and positive attitudes while upholding a high level of integrity to the sport,” Larsen added. “I’m so proud of the way they have grown as players and teammates this season and their fight has just continued to strengthen as the season has progressed.”
Larsen will have to replace four seniors next year — Grace Grosskurth, Holly Schmidt, Edie Schmidt and Abbey Youngvorst.
Juniors Lilly Allen, Shalu Arun, Cambelle Jossart, Molly Morrow, Faith Scott, Julia Witt and Emma Zauhar should all see their roles increase next fall, as well as ninth-grader Ava Kale.
“Even with four seniors on the team this year and several juniors, there are players who have worked very hard on the junior varsity and 10A teams in addition to middle school players who will be possibly looking to join the high school team in the future,” Larsen said. “This group of girls wants the best for each other and wants the best for our program.
“They will continue to empower one another, challenge each other and build the skills of one another to make not only themselves, but their teammates, and future teammates, better and more successful,” Larsen continued.