The Tri-City United girls tennis team is moving up in the competitive world, though not by its own desire.
This season, the Titans are advancing from Class 2A to 2AA. As a result, the team will be facing bigger schools come 2019-20, specifically when it comes down to playoff time. According to Activities Director Chad Johnson, this change is not because the school is growing bigger, but because smaller schools are adding tennis to their activities.
“Some smaller schools may have added tennis,” said Johnson. “Here, it’s the same kids every year. Enrollment hasn’t changed. We’re just very close to that middle between A and AA.”
Despite the change in rankings, Johnson says he does not expect it to have much of an impact on the team’s performance.
“I don’t think it changes anything for our tennis team,” said Johnson. “We’ll be playing a lot of the teams we play now. We will be the smallest team in the biggest pond, but I don’t see it having much of an impact.”
The current schedule has TCU facing off against some familiar schools, like Maple River and Le Sueur-Henderson, but the team will also be facing bigger opponents, like Northfield and Waseca. And come playoff time, TCU will be up against 2AA schools like Mankato East and West, Prior Lake, Hutchinson, New Ulm and more.
Not everyone was content with the change, though.
“It’s not the Minnesota State High School League at its finest,” said TCU girls tennis coach Phil Murry. “We don’t have the numbers to be competitive with these bigger schools. I don’t know what they’re thinking. It shocked me when it happened.”
Part of Murry’s frustration comes from MSHSL’s decision to remove the appeals process this year, meaning that TCU could not challenge the ranking. TCU will remain in the AA ranking for the next two years. Nonetheless, Murry remains determined.
“We’ll make the best of it,” he said.
The girls may have an uphill battle ahead of them. Last season, the team’s record was 1-9, with their only win being a 5-2 victory against Sibley East. This year, the team is without its first and second ranked singles players and its first ranked doubles player from the 2018 season.
Working in the team’s favor are the many new athletes who have joined.
“We got a lot of first-year tennis players joining us this year,” said Murry. “I told them there are a lot of holes. The spots are there for the taking; they just have to want it.”
Neighboring school district Le Sueur-Henderson is not experiencing any class changes this year, according to LS-H Activities Director Jeff Christ.
“We fortunately missed any class changes this year,” said Christ. “We will remain in the same classes for our athletics programs as we have previously been in.”
Things could be different for LS-H next year, when MSHSL changes its rankings for cross country.
“Next year, cross country will go to 3 classes, A, AA and AAA. We will more than likely be in Class AA when that happens,” said Christ.