Girls tennis is perennially the first fall prep sport to get competition underway. That’s the case for the Faribault girls tennis team as it’s the first Falcon team to play Aug. 17 in a triangular at Tri-City United.
Here’s a quick outlook for the upcoming Big 9 Conference season and Section 1AA, which has a strong Big 9 influence. All athletes’ grade levels are for the upcoming season unless noted.
Albert Lea — The Tigers finished 3-10 overall with a 3-8 record in the Big 9 last year to finish in 10th place. No. 2 singles Samantha Skarstad was all-conference honorable mention and expects to bump up to No. 1 to replace AL’s only senior from 2018, Lexus Saltou. A head coach is not listed on the school’s page or MSHSL page. Therese Netzer was a new head coach in 2018.
Austin — The Packers were 0-15 overall and 0-11 in conference to finish 12th in the Big 9. Austin was not represented in the all-Big 9 awards. The Packers listed just seven members on their 2018 MSHSL roster, all of who are elgibile to return. Jeff Anderson, not to be confused with Faribault head coach Jeff Anderson, is listed at head coach.
Faribault — The Falcons were without a senior on the squad last year and will look to build off a 3-11 record and a 1-10 mark in the Big 9 to finish 11th. Erica Johnsrud and Abby Goodwin are seniors this year and were an all-Big 9 No. 1 doubles duo. Junior Kylie Petricka was all-conference honorable mention at No. 1 singles. Jeff Anderson replaces Darren Iverson as head coach after a five-year stint. Anderson has coached the Faribault boys team since 2014.
Mankato East — The Cougars finished sixth in the Big 9 at 6-5 in conference and 9-9 overall. They lose all-Big 9 No. 1 singles Hannah Weng but return junior Kezia Kim who as all-Big 9 at the No. 2 slot. No. 3 singles senior Katelyn Flatgard was honorable mention. Weng was one of just two seniors in 2018. The Cougars are led by former Faribault coach Ryan Fredrickson.
Mankato West — West was neck-and-neck with rival East, finishing 5-5 in the Big 9 for seventh place and 7-15 overall. The Scarlets will be led by senior Kelsey Goettl who was all-Big 9 honorable mention at No. 1 doubles. West graduated three seniors. Head coach Darwin Silva enters his third year.
Northfield — The Raiders were 7-4 in the Big 9 and were dominant against the bottom half of the conference to place fifth. Northfield was 9-6 overall. The Raiders lose their top two singles, Abby Borene and Lauren Weber, but do return all-Big 9 honorable mention junior Libby Brust. Longtime boys and girls head coach Mark Johnson returns.
Owatonna — The Huskies were the best non-Rochester Big 9 team, finishing 8-3 and 14-3 overall. The Huskies made their fifth straight Section 1AA finals appearance led by their first individual state entrant, all-Big 9 No. 1 singles Emily Rahrick. Rahrick graduated, but Owatonna returns all-Big 9 No. 2 singles senior Sara Anderson and No. 3 junior Megan Johnson. No. 4 sophomore Liv Herzog and No. 1 doubles senior Leah Tucker are also back for a team looking to climb higher. Longtime coach Curt Matejcek returns.
Red Wing — The Wingers finished 3-8 in the Big 9 for ninth place and 5-8 overall. No. 1 singles sophomore Chloe Struss returns to a young team that has just one senior. Doug Toivonen and Drew Olinger share head coaching duties for the third straight season.
Rochester Century — The Panthers finished second at the Big 9 with the only blemish on their 10-1 mark coming to state power and Big 9 champ, Rochester Mayo. Century was 11-1 and in the state rankings thanks to five all-Big 9 performers. The top three singles are all back in freshman No. 1 Paige Sargeant, sophomore No. 2 Julia Baber and junior No. 3 Nina Rehfeldt. The Panthers will replace their top doubles duo of Victoria Suk and Carley Madson. Josh Heiden is back at head coach.
Rochester John Marshall — The Rockets were unbeaten against non-city rivals en route to an 8-2 mark for third place in the Big 9 and 9-5 overall. Losses of 6-1 to both Century and Mayo provided a bit of a gap between the top two. John Marshall returns top single senior Chris Kuester as well as No. 2 eighth-grader Ancele Dolensek. Graduating is all-Big 9 No. 1 doubles Maggie Yadlosky, though her honorable mention partner, senior Heather Mullenbach, returns. Former standout player at the school, Katie Krull, enters her second year as head coach.
Rochester Mayo — The Spartans surrendered just eight points during an 11-0 Big 9 season (13-2 overall). It was their 17th straight conference title in what’s one of the state’s more impressive runs of success. Mayo tends to reload instead of rebuild, but it will have to replace its top two singles Emma Trncic and Emily Norman. Both were all-Big 9 and join No. 1 doubles Amalin Sorajja as top graduating seniors. Back from the all-Big 9 team are junior No. 3 singles Ani Bulbulian, senior No. 1 doubles Deeya Patel, senior No. 2 doubles Ellen Barancyzk and junior No. 1 doubles Taylor Julsrud. Honorable mention sophomore No. 4 singles Sutton Julsrud also returns. Mayo was inside the top three in the state rankings for much of the season and was the top team outside the Twin Cities metro. Longtime head coach and defending Big 9 Coach of the Year, Dave Edwards, returns.
Winona — The Winhawks finished 3-6 in the Big 9 for eighth place and 3-9 overall. They played the fewest overall matches of any in the conference. Winona graduated three seniors but returns all-Big 9 honorable mention junior No. 1 singles Emma Heinert. Longtime head coach Tom Sanvik returns.
Listed in order of 2018 playoff seed
Mayo — Mayo has reached the state tournament six years running and 22 of the last 23 years. The Spartans lost in the state semifinals to No. 2 Minnetonka, 4-3. See above for more details. Trncic was the section singles champion and Norman/Sorajja were the doubles section champs.
Lakeville South — The Cougars were the No. 2 seed last year and lived up to their seed advancing to the section finals. Mayo knocked off South 6-1 in the finals. The Cougars return senior Cora Anderson from their section doubles runner-up team that graduated Anna Harvey. John Pieri returns as head coach.
Rochester Century — The Panthers fell to South in the team semifinals. Sargent and Baber teamed up to win the doubles section and place fourth at state.
Lakeville North — Like South and Century, North would be a state title contender in most other sections. Instead, the Panthers’ run ended in the semifinals. With seven players graduating from 2018, it could be a rebuidling year. The Panthers do return top single senior Sophie Shankey. Trish Staehling is back as head coach.
Rochester John Marshall — Bowed out in the team quarterfinals to North. Kuester advanced to the section singles semifinals.
Owatonna — The Huskies beat Winona and lost to Century in the quarterfinals. Rahrick finished second at singles to go to state but has grdaduated.
Hastings — The Raiders beat Waseca in the playoffs and lost to South in the quarterfinals. Hastings lists a lengthy roster on its MSHSL page, including 13 seniors who graduated. Their top doubles team was seeded fifth last year and returns half with Amy Roach back and Elizabeth Henrichs gone. Top singles junior Auri Sakakibara advanced to the subsection semifinals. Marissa Welch returns as coach.
Northfield — Was upset by No. 9 Farmington in round one of the team playoffs. Borene and Weber advanced to the subsection semifinals. The Raiders did not have a single advance past round one.
Farmington — The Tigers pulled off the slight upset of Northfield before falling to Mayo at sections. Farmington has a state hopeful at No. 1 singles in junior Ashley Renwick. She was the No. 2 seed in the subsection before falling to No. 7 seed Taylor Julsrud of Red Wing in round two. The team graduated six players but has a lot of youth. Former Tiger Blake Olmscheid enters year four as head coach.
Waseca — The Bluejays dropped in round one of the team tournament and did not win a match at singles or doubles. Waseca should be improved after losing just two seniors and returning top single, freshman CeCe Huttemeier. Longtime head coach Kyle Collins returns.
Winona — Winona fell in round one of the team competition. Heinert teamed with the now graduated Carson Johnson to advance to round two at doubles.
Red Wing — Red Wing lost in round one of the team competition. At singles, 2019 grad Taylor Julsrud won two matches.
Albert Lea — Albert Lea lost in round one as a team and got a win at singles from Saltou and current senior Sam Skarstad.
Austin — The Packers lost as a team in round one and did not pick up a section singles or doubles win.
Faribault — The Falcons lost as a team in round one and did not win a singles or doubles win. Johnsrud and Goodwin were No. 6 seeds in their doubles subsection a year ago.