Despite coming down with a case of the sniffles Friday, Kelly Yang was up and ready to go Saturday morning, ready to do whatever she could to help her Wayzata teammates in Edina’s prestigious Jim Jones Tennis Invitational.
When it was over, Yang, the Trojans’ No. 1 singles player, had pulled out a pair of needed victories, propelling Wayzata to the team championship.
She lost to Blake’s Libby Rickeman in a third-set tiebreaker in the quarterfinals of the team-based event but bounced back to defeat Edina’s Caitlyn Merzbacher in the semifinals. That victory was the deciding match in Wayzata’s 4-3 upset victory over the No. 1-ranked Hornets. The Trojans went on to defeat Minnetonka in the finals, with Yang earning another key point in defeating Bella Lambert at No. 1 singles.
“It was a very big victory for us,” Yang said. “We’ve never beaten Edina before, let alone in a tournament that big.”
Staff writer Jim Paulsen spoke with Yang about her tiring-yet-satisfying day.
Q: I’d say that Saturday was a pretty special day. How do you feel now?
A: It was long and it was kind of rough, but I’m really happy we won. It’s unbelievable that we beat Edina. They’re always on their “A” game.
Q: What will the victory do for the team?
A: It will be huge confidence booster for us. On the other hand, we have to play them again [on Tuesday, after this edition was printed]. We know they will want to come back and beat us.
Q: How tough was it to play while ill?
A: It wasn’t too bad. I pulled through. I was pretty much exhausted when I came home. I had to take a really long bath.
Q: Your singles match against Edina was the deciding point. Did you know that?
A: My coach came over and told me that we were tied 3-3, so it was kind of nerve-racking. But I think I already knew that. I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’d better win this one. We may not get the chance to beat them again.” It was a little intimidating.
Q: Were you any more nervous going into the match because it was Edina?
A: I didn’t feel much of a difference. I go into every match thinking, “I can do it, keep pulling through, never give up,” all that jazz.
Q: What is your favorite part of your game?
A: I like my serve a lot. It’s helped me get out of a lot of tight situations.
Q: What makes it so good?
A: I have a hard first serve and a second one that’s kind of spinny. I focus hard on my serve.
Q: Do you have a favorite player?
A: Yes, Roger Federer. He’s always been a very talented, very classy player.
Q: Do you take anything from his game?
A: Well, I have a one-handed backhand like him. We have that connection.
Q: What is your favorite place to play?
A: Last summer we got to play in San Diego, which was really fun. The weather was beautiful. I wanted to play there forever. But Minnesota is nice, too. We have a lot of nice places to play.