The Rochester Century girls tennis team has beaten Mayo just once in the history of the schools.
And this is a rivalry?
If the measurement for a rivalry is ample pre-meet jitters and anticipation by both sides, then yes, rivalry.
“Our kids get excited and nervous about playing Mayo,” Century coach Josh Heiden said. “If I was a player, I’m sure I’d have some nerves about this one. But I want them to have fun with it.”
Mayo coach Jeff Demaray knows his team always has to look out for Century. Like Mayo, they’re a traditional top-10 ranked team in the state. And then there’s what happened seven years ago.
Since 1997, Mayo has reached the state tournament every year but once. That was in 2012, when Century denied it, beating the Spartans in the Section 1AA championship.
“Our kids get excited every time we play Century,” Demaray said. “They know they’re the team that beat us in 2012 and broke our streak. Century has a great program and we have a lot of respect for them.”
If a rivalry measurement is year-round talk between the teams’ players about this matchup — so many of them knowing each other from lessons taken together at Rochester’s two private tennis clubs — then yes, this is a rivalry.
If the measurement for a rivalry is more nerves from Mayo seniors than ever about this matchup, then yes, rivalry.
“This is more nerve-racking this year, being a senior,” Mayo’s Deeya Patel said. “We are always hyped when we play Century. But being a senior, I really don’t want to lose to them and have our streak (against them) end.”
If the rivalry is measured by Century players begging internally to finally turn the corner and beat Mayo for the first time in seven years, then yes, rivalry.
“We just want to beat them once, finally,” Century freshman and third-year varsity player Paige Sargent said.
All of that was in play as the teams met for the umpteenth time Wednesday. It was a clash of teams that were unbeaten in the Big Nine and also state ranked. Mayo is No. 4 in Class AA, Century No. 8.
“We know it’s going to be a heck of a battle,” Demaray said just before the contest got underway. “Century’s top three singles kids area really strong. But we’ve got more depth.”
Demaray’s predictions were right on. It was a heck of a battle, but one that saw Mayo keep its seven-year win streak over Century alive, edging the Panthers 4-3.
Mayo did indeed win out with its depth, sweeping the doubles and then getting its fourth win at No. 4 singles, Sutton Julsrud prevailing 6-3, 6-3.
“I thought that at about every position, we played well,” said Demaray, whose team improved to 10-0 in the Big Nine and 13-2 overall. Its losses are to No. 1 Edina and No. 3 Mounds View.
“Our depth was important today,” Demaray continued. “Our doubles players played really well.”
Century coach Heiden mostly liked what he saw. But the next time the teams match up he wants his players to not show a whiff of being overwhelmed. Mayo is good and he knows it. But he will remind his team that it is excellent also.
Heiden, who’s team slipped to 8-1 overall, is hoping it will be the difference.