Stewartville-Lake City Girls Tennis

Ava Wallerich is the No. 1 singles player at Lake City, a position she's held since her freshman year. She's also a standout golfer and basketball player.

(Joe Alhquist /

Tough to know who’s more competitive, Ava Wallerich or her father, Bruce Wallerich.

But all-around Lake City athlete Ava knows where she gets her will to win. It’s from former all-around athlete Bruce.

Ava also knows where she gets her softer side. That’s from mom, Trissa Wallerich. Trissa has had plenty of nights where she’s been a veritable fire extinguisher, putting out living room flames.

“There is some extra heat in the household sometimes between my dad and me where he’s thinking of ways I can do better in (sports),” said Ava, who’s been known to fight back. “Sometimes my dad is more competitive than I want him to be. My mom does her best to keep things calm.”

Like father like daughter. And the truth is, Ava wouldn’t want it any other way. That’s both in terms of her own makeup and her relationship with her dad. While it can sometimes get contentious between the two, there has been much more bonding than bristling between them.

Ava’s competitiveness expands much further than the Wallerich living room and when her father is around. She brings it everywhere with her, including the classroom (3.94 GPA), the tennis court, the basketball floor and the golf course.

“I hate to lose,” Ava said.

Good thing for her, there isn’t much losing in her life.

Last year, Wallerich was good enough to advance to the state individual tennis tournament for the third time in four seasons. 

As always, she teamed with since-graduated Ashley Thieren to make that happen, the two finishing sixth overall in doubles. Her Tigers team was good enough to advance to the Section 1A finals where it barely bowed to state power Rochester Lourdes 4-3.

In basketball, the 5-feet-6 Wallerich started for a youthful Lake City team that finished 20-7 and reached the Section 1AA semifinals. She followed that up with all kinds of individual and team success in her best and favorite sport, golf. Wallerich was fifth in the state tournament, while her team was edged by eventual state champion Red Wing in the Section 1AA tournament.

It’s more than a coincidence that Wallerich has been on such winning teams. Lake City tennis coach Al Orthaus, whose season is in full swing, says Wallerich has created a winning culture wherever she goes.

Her will has much to do with that.

“Ava is probably the most competitive person I’ve ever seen on the tennis court,” Orthaus sad. “I’m sure she is like that in all of her sports. That competitiveness rubs off on her teammates. She also has a great work ethic. Anything she puts her mind too, she succeeds at it.”

And it’s quite a mind. Ask Orthaus to name two things that jump out most about Wallerich, and it's a quick answer: her will to win and her intelligence.

Those smarts are as handy in her sports realms as they are in the classroom. Orthaus sees that play out on the tennis court.

“Ava is super intillegent,” he said. “She’s got such great instincts on the tennis court, and that helps make her really versatile, whether she's playing singles or doubles for us.”

Ironically, that versaitility — in one way — may have also held her back in sports. There simply isn’t time to completely lock into any one thing when you’re playing three sports. Wallerich has prioritized golf the most and has committed to play it next year at Minnesota State, Mankato. She also did a steady amount with basketball this summer, joining her team in that.

That's left tennis as the one sport that likely gets the least of her attention, even though she lists it as her second favorite — golf, tennis, then basketball.

But Wallerich, who’s played No. 1 singles at Lake City since her freshman year, has no regrets about her choices. She's relished using her gift of versatility.



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Sports Reporter

Pat covers tennis, girls basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and baseball. He also writes about Gophers football and basketball, and the Timberwolves. He’s been reporting for the Post Bulletin since 1994.