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Mayo's Loftus sisters storm to Class AA state doubles championship

Mayo sisters Claire and Aoife Loftus entered the Class AA state girls tennis tournament as the No. 3 seed in doubles. They wound up winning the tournament with ease.

Mayo vs. Winona Girls Tennis Section 1AA Team Semifinal
Mayo's Claire Loftus returns the ball to Winona's Molly Heinert during a girls tennis Section 1AA team semfinal match Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022, at the Rochester Athletic Club. On Friday, Claire and her sister, Aoife Loftus, breezed to the state doubles title at the University of Minnesota's Baseline Tennis Center.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin file photo
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MINNEAPOLIS — The sisters act worked.

Did it ever. Mayo sisters Claire and Aoife Loftus didn’t just win the Class AA state doubles crown, they stormed to it.

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That included in the championship match where they blitzed Blake’s Allyson Jay and Nana Vang 6-2, 6-0 on Friday at the University of Minnesota’s Baseline Tennis Center.

In four state matches, the Loftus sisters didn’t come close to dropping a set.

Mayo vs. Winona Girls Tennis Section 1AA Team Semifinal
Mayo's Aoife Loftus returns the ball to Winona's Adele Jacobsen during a girls tennis Section 1AA team semfinal match Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022, at the Rochester Athletic Club.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin file photo

Not bad for a duo that came in as the event’s third seed.

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“I knew that we were capable of doing that,” said Claire, a sophomore and ranked sixth in the state in singles. “Maybe the margin of victory surprised me just a little, but I’m not sure. As a tandem, I think we played to our strengths and to our opponent’s weaknesses.”

Against Jay and Vang, the Mayo duo did pretty much whatever it wanted. Almost everything worked. Claire’s strength is her overall game, with her drop shots being a particular dagger. Aoife, an eighth-grader, is best on the baseline and like Claire has a terrific serve.

Those combinations left their opponents on Thursday and Friday with little chance. There was nothing to exploit, all while Claire and Aoife did all kinds of exploiting.

“They both have excellent serves and can attack off of them,” Mayo coach Jeff Demaray said. “They can place their serves where they want to. We won a lot of points off their serves. And they both have phenomenal ground strokes. The team from Minnetonka came to the net a lot and (Claire and Aoife) went down the alley against them on a consistent basis. Their ground strokes were amazing.”

Claire shifting from singles to doubles for the state tournament took some by surprise, with her being one of the state’s best in singles. But with a right wrist that had been giving her trouble the last half of the season, she knew that doubles would be less taxing. There was also the lure of trying to win a state championship with her sister.

Though she says she’s opting for singles next year, and Aoife likely will too, doubles this time was just the thing.

“It was the right decision,” Claire said. “It was a good overall tennis experience. And Aoife and I got along well. It’s easier to get along when you’re winning matches.”

• Mayo also got excellent play on Friday from the doubles team of Keely Ryder and Malea Diehn. They finished in fifth place, winning 7-5, 6-2 in the consolation semifinals and then 6-2, 6-1 in the final.

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“Keely and Malea played great matches today,” Demaray said. “They did a heck of a job. Their movement was fantastic.”

CLASS AA

• At U of M’s Baseline Tennis Center

Singles

Semifinals: Kelsey Phillips (Minnetonka) def. Ava Nelson (Elk River) 7-6 (7-2), 6-2; Sarah Shahbaz (Minnetonka) def. Cassandra Li (Eagan) 6-0, 6-1. Final: Shabhaz (Minnetonka) def. Phillips (Minnetonka) 6-1, 6-2. Third place: Li (Eagan) def. Nelson (Elk River) 6-1, 6-0.

Doubles

Semifinals: Claire Loftus/Aoife Loftus (Mayo) def. Emilija Medziukaite/Maddie Prondzinski 6-1, 6-0; Allyson Jay/Nana Vang (Blake) def. Karina Elvestrom/Meghan Jurgens (Minnetonka) 2-6, 6-2, 6-4. Final: Claire Loftus/Aoife Loftus (Mayo) def. Allyson Jay/Nana Vang (Blake) 6-2, 6-0. Third place: Elvestrom/Jurgens (Minnetonka) def. Medziukaite/Prondzinski 6-4, 7-5. Consolation semifinals: Keely Ryder/Malea Diehn (Mayo) def. Bethany Smith/Avery Spratt (Maple Grove) 7-5, 6-2. Fifth place: Ryder/Diehn (Mayo) def. Paige Tarrolly/Ella Marohl (St. Cloud Tech) 6-2, 6-1.

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