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Re-enter McCoy, enter 12-year-old -- a she, not a he

  • April 7, 2011 - 10:39 AM

High-profile additions and big-name subtractions promise to make the boys' tennis season one of the most interesting in recent years. Here are three prominent story lines to watch:

1 THE PRODIGAL PLAYER

Mounds View's Wyatt McCoy gave up high school tennis for loftier pursuits after his freshman year in 2008, having already won a state singles title as an eighth-grader and having lost in an epic semifinal match to Buffalo's Michael Sicora -- the eventual Class 2A champ -- the next year.

McCoy spent two years playing in national and international tournaments, improving his game and his USTA ranking, which is No. 9 for boys 18 and younger.

Along the way he earned a tennis scholarship to Notre Dame. And the coaches there had a little advice for him: go back to high school tennis.

"They wanted him to get used to playing team tennis again," said his father, Brian.

So McCoy is back for his senior season, setting up what should be a wonderful rivalry with two-time defending champion Dusty Boyer of Forest Lake.

Boyer, a junior who is ranked No. 90 nationally, hits with McCoy often but has never beaten him in competition.

"Wyatt has improved by leaps and bounds since ninth grade," Mounds View coach Mike Cartwright said. "He's such a complete player. His footwork and racquet preparation are incredible."

2 A GIRL IN A BOY'S WORLD

The loudest buzz in prep tennis circles concerns Ingrid Neel, a 12-year-old seventh-grader from Rochester.

With an eye toward the future, Neel's parents petitioned the Minnesota State High School League to allow her to play for the boys' team at Rochester Mayo this spring.

The MSHSL gave the OK with the stipulation that she cannot play both boys' and girls' tennis in the same school year. The girls' season is in the fall.

Barely 5 feet tall, Neel has nonetheless dominated girls' junior tennis in Minnesota, already owning the top ranking. Over the winter, she defeated the Class 2A girls' champion, Rochester Century junior Kelsey Frechette, three times in tournament play.

"It will be interesting," Cartwright said. "It's going to be hard for some guys, wondering how the heck they are losing to a seventh-grade girl. But she's just really talented."

3 LOOK WHO'S MISSING

It's also worth noting who has decided not to play this season.

Both of last year's runners-up in the state singles tournaments -- Edina's Erik Nordahl (Class 2A) and Breck's Myles Tang (1A) -- chose to leave school to commit full time to tennis at John Newcombe's Tennis Ranch outside San Antonio. Nordahl, a junior, is still in Texas, honing his game. Tang, a sophomore, has returned to Minnesota, but his transfer means that, according to MSHSL rules, he is ineligible to play high school tennis this season.

JAMES PAULSEN

METRO TOP 10

1. Eden Prairie

2. Breck

3. Mahtomedi

4. Mounds View

5. Edina

6. Blake

7. Elk River

8. Forest Lake

9. Wayzata

10. St. Paul Academy

10 PLAYERS TO WATCH

1. Wyatt McCoy, Mounds View

2. Dusty Boyer, Forest Lake

3. Tucker Saxon, Mahtomedi

4. Scott Elsaas, Eden Prairie

5. John Hill, St. Paul Academy

6. Michael Tebon, Minnetonka

7. Ryan Erickson, Hopkins

8. Daniel Carpenter, Breck

9. Noah Sprinkel, Minneapolis South

10. Nazhone Wilkins, Burnsville

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