LAKEVILLE — Not easy, but the Mayo girls tennis team wasn’t planning on easy.
They only thing that mattered to the Spartans was that they got it done, again.
Mayo did — just barely, twice — and with it is headed back to familiar ground. For the seventh straight year Mayo will be playing in the Class AA state team tournament at the University of Minnesota’s Baseline Tennis Center.
That’s a heady streak. Even header is that the Spartans have been denied a state trip just once since 1997. That was in 2012, when Century knocked them out in the Section 1AA finals.
On Tuesday at Lakeville’s Lifetime Fitness, Mayo beat Lakeville North 4-3 in the section semifinals, then got past Century by the same score in the finals.
Next up is a trip to the state tournament on Sept. 22-23 for the 19-2 Spartans.
“Our depth showed again,” Mayo coach Jeff Demaray said. “I knew that would be our advantage going in.”
Demaray also knew something else. It was that while his team had the inside track in getting to state, it wasn’t by much. Not with a Section 1AA field that was this stacked.
Tuesday’s four semifinals teams — Mayo, Century, Lakeville South and Lakeville North — were all ranked in the top 10 in the state. Mayo was fifth, Century seventh, Lakeville South ninth and Lakeville North 10th.
The scores in all three of the day’s duals reflected that strength and parity. No. 1 seed Mayo beat No. 4 Lakeville North 4-3 in the semifinals, No. 3 Century beat No. 2 Lakeville South 4-3 in the semis and Mayo then beat Century by that same score in the championship.
And yes, in the end, it was all about Mayo’s depth. It showed up where depth almost always does, in doubles. Mayo won two of three doubles matches against North, then swept the doubles against Century.
“It came down to some spots at doubles where Mayo was just better than we were today,” said Century coach Josh Heiden, whose team was also swept by Mayo there in the teams’ regular-season meeting. That also ended 4-3 in Mayo's favor.
“We fought to the bitter end and (assistant coach) Kris (Allen) and I are really proud of our girls,” Heiden said. “But you have to tip your hat to Mayo. They played amazing doubles today. Every one of their doubles players was serving up bombs and big shots.”
Heiden’s day also was buoyed by what his team did against Lakeville South, which was seeded one spot higher than Century. South had knocked the Panthers out in the section semifinals last year. So Tuesday’s win against it was particularly satisfying
“We were confident that if we played well against South, with the lineup we put in, that we could get the job done,” said Heiden, whose team finished its dual-meet season 14-2.
While Century expectedly swept the top three singles spots against Mayo, where it is loaded, once again it was the Spartans’ No. 4 singles player Sutton Julsrud who prevented it from being a Century sweep and a team win.
Julsrud, with her patient approach and looping strokes, won 6-2, 6-4. That win was just enough to get Mayo over the top and back to state.
Mayo senior doubles player Deeya Patel looked back on the hard-fought win over Lakeville North as having been pivotal.
“We were really on our toes in that one,” Patel said. “But after that, we had our confidence back.”
Century 4, Lakeville South 3
Singles: Ancele Dolensek (C) def. Reese Burton 6-0, 6-0; Paige Sargent (C) def. Isabel Deane 6-1, 6-0; Julia Baber (C) def. Riley Burton 6-3, 6-1; Nina Rehfeldt (C) def. Michala Sullivan 6-0, 6-2. Doubles: Cora Andersen/Lauren Diede (LS) def. Kathleen Thompson/Varsha Shan 6-1, 6-4; Georgia Demi/Taylor Tupy (LS) def. Zoey Chen/Jenny Yan 6-2, 6-2; Callie McDonald/Grace Thor (LS) def. Haley Taggart/Sarah Nevenheim 6-0, 6-2.
Mayo 4, Lakeville North 3
Singles: Claire Loftus (M) def. Sophie Shankey 6-0, 6-0; Jordan Hoover (LN) def. Ani Bulbulian 6-4, 6-3; Sutton Julsrud (M) def. Esha Sekar 2-6, 6-1, 6-3; Kiera Kelly (LN) def Nandini Iyer 7-5, 6-2. Doubles: Grace Ackerman/Taylor Julsrud (M) def. Emily Plotnik/Olivia Plotnik 6-1, 6-7 (8-6), 6-2; Deeya Patel/Ellen Barancyzk (M) def. Eden Britt/Domiano Baideme 6-3, 6-3; Sarah Ramsay/Tori McMorrow (LN) def. Taylor Hill/Molly Pickering 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.
Mayo 4, Century 3
Singles: Dolensek (C) def. Claire Loftus 6-2, 6-4; Sargent (C) def. Taylor Julsrud 6-0, 6-1; Baber (C) def. Bulbulian 6-4, 6-2; Sutton Julsrud (M) def. Rehfeldt 6-2, 6-4. Doubles: Patel/Ackerman (M) def. Thompson/Shan 6-0, 6-0; Barancyzk/Hill (M) def. Yan/Chen 6-0, 6-0; Iyer/Pickering (M) def. Nevenheim/Taggert 6-1, 6-0.