A look at the top three story lines for the 2014 season:
1. The Dynasty
In terms of streaks, the Edina girls’ tennis team’s remarkable run of consecutive state championships can officially be called a generation of dominance.
The Hornets will be shooting for their 18th consecutive Class 2A team championship this fall. As a sign of the program’s dominance, it would be an upset of epic proportions if Edina failed to win another title.
The Hornets return the defending state singles champion in senior Caitlyn Merzbacher, who will be pushed for the top spot in the lineup by freshman Sophie Reddy.
Reddy considered sitting out the high school season to focus on developing her game but was expected to rejoin the team Monday.
Even without Reddy, Edina had enough talent in seniors Kelly Reger and Michelle Ip, freshman Margeaux Boyer and incoming seventh-grader Nicole Copeland to win another title. With Reddy, it’s all but assured.
2. Lineup clarifications
Team tennis has always operated under the assumption that coaches would fill out their lineup cards ensuring their best players play in the appropriate positions. That means, for example, the best singles player playing at No. 1 singles, and the second-best at No. 2.
During the postseason, teams are required to submit three potential lineups for approval and cannot deviate from those lineups once play begins. But questions still remained about the integrity of those lineups. A proposal approved by the state coaches association would require coaches to rank of all of the players on the team in order of skill level, providing more transparency to the three lineups submitted.
“We’re trying to simplify the lineup process,” said Thief River Falls coach Rick Engelstad, executive secretary of the coaches association. “It would allow coaches on other teams to know if players were in the right places.”
The Minnesota State High School League would have to approve the proposal before those changes would be made. “It wouldn’t happen until spring, at the earliest,” Engelstad said.
3. Tourney expansion
There was some momentum among metro high school tennis coaches to expand the tennis state tournament by adding a third qualifier in singles and doubles.
The reasoning would be to improve uniformity among qualifying standards. Currently, the top two finishers in each section move on to the state tournament. Some sections hold a “True Second” individual qualifying match, in which the championship loser plays the third-place winner — provided that the third-place winner also lost to the eventual champion — to determine the most worthy section runner-up. Other sections do not.
“We tabled that idea,” Engelstad said. “Mostly because we want to save the consolation process. Players from outstate Minnesota don’t want to come all the way to the Twin Cities, play one match and leave.”
Engelstad added that there are other issues involved, such as high school league resistance to adding another day to the state tournament and anticipated difficulty in securing tournament facilities.
“But,” he said, “I’m sure it will come up again.”