Prep girls' tennis: Storylines to watch

  • Article by: JIM PAULSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 27, 2013 - 12:01 AM

1. Edina dynasty adds top talent

A year ago, Caitlyn Merzbacher was a section doubles champion at Jerome High School in Dublin (Ohio). Now she’s considered one of the top singles players at arguably the most renowned girls’ high school tennis program in the nation. Merzbacher, a junior, is the daughter of University of Minnesota women’s tennis coach Chuck Merzbacher. She finished up her sophomore year in Ohio, then joined her father in Minnesota after he completed his first year as the Gophers’ coach. The addition of Merzbacher to an Edina lineup that already includes stellar eighth-grader Sophia Reddy, junior Mackenzi Marinovich and senior Maddie Boyer pretty much cinches another Class 2A team championship for Edina, which is riding a streak of 16 consecutive titles.

2. Will Lakers break through?

What is supposed to be a breakthrough season for Prior Lake got off to a bit of a rough start as the Lakers, ranked No. 2 in the state coaches association Class 2A poll, lost their first two matches of the season to traditional tennis powers Rochester Mayo and Sioux Falls (S.D.) O’Gorman. But it’s not the beginning the Lakers are concerned with. Coach Kris Schneider has put together a difficult nonconference schedule to prepare her young but talented lineup. The Lakers have 13 players back from the team that finished third in the Class 2A state tournament last fall, but many of the players are underclassmen, including their top three singles players: Chloe Hall (soph.), Savannah Crowell (fr.) and Taylor Jackson (eighth-grader).

Prior Lake may have an up-and-down regular season, but expect the Lakers to be dangerous by the time the postseason rolls around.

3. Class 2A and 1A: Is there a difference?

Breaking tennis down by classes based upon enrollment is certainly beneficial from a team standpoint. However, in the case of individual talent, the distinction is often less clear. Such is the case this year, where the defending champions in their respective classes are not just very close in terms of talent, they’re very close friends as well. Mounds View senior Summer Brills, the 2012 Class 2A champion, and St. Paul Academy senior Sonya Das, who is looking to defend her 1A crown, both live in the Mounds View school district and are teammates on a USTA team in the summer. How close are they in talent? They’ve split their past two official USTA matches, with Brills winning in straight sets in April and Das getting even with a similar result in June.

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