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Senior six have been crucial for Lourdes girls tennis

The Rochester Lourdes girls tennis team has six seniors — Jane Spading, Sydney Elliott, Karin Hayford, Mellisa Stocker, Hannah Roth and Annabel Boughey. They've made all the difference in this program.

Rochester Lourdes’ Jane Spading returns the ball in a No. 2 singles match against Lake City’s Maddie Medvec on Monday, September 21, 2020, at the Tennis Connection Outdoor Site in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

The Rochester Lourdes girls tennis team will be excellent again next year, with some serious talent coming back.

But it will look considerably different than what the Eagles have going on this season. And that’s only partly a reflection of what a talented group of six seniors Lourdes currently possesses.

It’s a group of six that happens to be as appreciative as it is talented.

Lourdes tennis has been a big deal for Jane Spading, Sydney Elliott, Karin Hayford, Mellisa Stocker, Hannah Roth and Annabel Boughey.

Evidence is that they spent the offseason sweating, for two reasons. One was while working their tails off trying to up their games, some of them doing that daily this summer. The rest of the sweat came from wondering if there would be a season and if they’d get that last chance to play together.

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The COVID-19 pandemic threatened all fall high school sports, including girls tennis.

Turns out they got their season, though it’s been modified to Hiawatha Valley League duals only. There will be a section tournament, but likely no state event. The Eagles had made advancing to state their routine for two decades, having reached state 23 straight years.

Now, there is only an outside chance that the Minnesota State High School League will offer a state meet. While that is painful for the Eagles — many of them calling it their favorite time of the entire school year — they are still keeping it in perspective and being grateful for what they have.

They got some more time together on Monday afternoon, romping past Lake City 7-0 on Senior Night, outdoors at the Rochester Tennis Connection. Just before that they got a look at the “Senior Boards” the Lourdes underclassmen put together for them, each senior with a photo board dedicated to them, dotted with their pictures from now and yesteryear.

It’s part of what makes wearing those Eagles tennis uniforms so special for all of them, stuff like that.

“I’m just grateful that we got a season,” Lourdes No. 2 doubles player Karin Hayford said. “Things look different this year, and we aren’t getting nearly as many matches, but we are just happy to be out there and playing. I love playing tennis for Lourdes. I’ve made a lot of my best friends from this team. Our team is like a family, and it’s fun to watch everyone grow and get better.”

That family sure looked good one more time Monday as it overwhelmed the Tigers 7-0 and ran its record to 6-0, all of those wins by 7-0 scores.

Pettengill believes that Lourdes will be formidable again in 2021, pointing to such young talent as sophomore Ryann Witter, freshman Elyse Palen, freshman Caroline Daily and seventh-grader Ana Medina.

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But without his six seniors from this season, it’s going to be different. He's losing a group that’s been such a major piece of this program, for so long.

“It’s going to be a big dent next year, not having them,” Pettengill said. “They've been a group that keeps getting better and has fun playing. And right now, all six are playing better than they ever have.”

Lourdes 7, Lake City 0

Singles: Ryann Witter (Lour) def. Kaylee Muenzhuber 6-0, 6-1; Jane Spading (Lour) def. Maddie Medvec 6-0, 6-0; Ana Medina (Lour) def. Brooke Bee 6-1, 6-2; Caroline Daly (Lour) def. Libby Heise 6-3, 6-0. Doubles: Sydney Elliott/Elyse Palen (Lour) def. Dorothy Holland/Molly Kennedy 6-4, 6-0; Karin Hayford/Melissa Stocker (Lour) def. Olivia Bailey/Allison Wallerich 6-3, 6-2; Hannah Roth/Annabel Boughey (Lour) def. Sophia Mahn/Megan Jostock 6-2, 6-0.

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The Rochester Lourdes seniors are honored in their last home match on Monday, September 21, 2020, at the Tennis Connection Outdoor Site in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

092120.S.RPB.LOURDES.LAKECITY.GTENNIS.718.jpg
The Rochester Lourdes seniors are honored in their last home match on Monday, September 21, 2020, at the Tennis Connection Outdoor Site in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or pruff@postbulletin.com.
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