Blake Girls’ Tennis transitions back to single A

After falling to Edina in last year’s section final match, Blake Girls’ Tennis comes back this season stronger than ever, ranked first in the single A division

Will Kaback, Student Life Editor

Tennis legend Monica Seles once said, “Tennis has to become everything to you if you’re going to make it to the top. You have to live it.” For the girls tennis team, the start of the school year and the fall season marks the beginning of their immersion into a life of volleys, backhands, and aces. After a season in double A—the highest tier of competition—the Bears are once again in single A, but much of their 2A competition remains the same. Coming off a second place finish in sections for singles and a state championship for doubles, the team has set its sights on complete domination. With a slew of seniors anchoring the team as well as a coach in his final year, the motivation to go out on top is as present as ever.  

Last year, in section 2A, the team competed against schools with student bodies that dwarfed that of Blake. Even so, they were always competitive and won often. Sydney Krelitz ‘16 fondly remembers the intense matches with Edina and Wayzata, and says “being competitive and even winning some of those games against the big schools were a huge confidence boost.” Despite the move back to section A, the team still plays those same schools, although the importance of the games is decreased. Krelitz believes the season in 2A “only made us better” and “increased the morale of the team.” Now, back in their original section, “we only have one goal—to win it all.”

The program is not unfamiliar with success. According to the Bears official website, “Blake won several Class A state titles in the 1990’s and just captured the title again in 2011. It is typical for Blake to reach the section finals in both team and individual play each year.” In 2A, they finished fourth in the section and won state for doubles play. Even so, the players say that this season there is extra motivation to win the state yet again. Captain Amy Juang ‘16 says, “This is Coach {insert name} final season with the team. For most of us seniors, he’s been with us almost all of our high school career.” In addition to the last season with their coach, the team is also graduating a high volume of seniors, many of whom started with the program all the way back in middle school. Juang says it’s “definitely bittersweet” but that “we still have lofty goals we’re trying to meet.” Hearing her talk, it’s obvious that she expects them to not just make the state tournament, but to compete for the championship. However, she’s quick to warn that their confidence “never borders on cockiness. We simply know that with our skill and experience, there’s only one place we want to be at the end of the season.”

Despite the high number of juniors and seniors, the team’s future remains bright in the rackets of the underclassmen and even a few middle schoolers. Eighth grade standout Arlina Shen ‘20 is already tearing up the Varsity level, and is the number two ranked player on the team. Additionally, Sonia Baig ‘21 has started playing at the high school level in the same year she will take Pre-Algebra. Juang says the team “loves” having the two middle schoolers on the team, as they see them as the future of the program.

If there is one common thread among the members of the girls tennis team, it is that they are extra motivated and prepared to take on the challenge of getting back to state. With a veteran roster sprinkled with a youthful influx of talent, they have cruised to a 6-1 start to the season. With sections beginning in the second week of October, the focus and hard work has only increased. In describing the elite attitude that has characterized the season, Juang does not mince words: “We’re ready.”