There will be plenty of individual success for the Eastview girls’ tennis team this fall. Coach Jeff Olson is pretty sure of that.
After all, Eastview has the Kopfer sisters — Jordan, a junior, playing first singles, and Taylor, a freshman playing second singles — giving the Lightning one of the top 1-2 combinations in the South Suburban Conference.
Then there’s eighth-grader Eeshan Varma, the team’s No. 3 singles player, and No. 4 Christina Lu, a freshman Both girls have started the season playing at a level far beyond their age, Olson said.
Olson said he is confident that his team’s talent will match up with many of the top teams they play this fall. The Lightning already has victories over Minnetonka, Mahtomedi and White Bear Lake.
But overall team success — in terms of league titles and playoff runs — can be difficult to gauge, he said. The margin for error in high school tennis is “very thin,” he said.
For Eastview, it’s about as wide as the anterior crucial ligament in the right knee of senior Melissa Barry.
“That’s our main question mark going into this season, her knee,” Olson said. “How she goes, we go. When she is in the lineup, we are a different team.”
Barry, a three-sport athlete, tore her ACL playing basketball last February, and missed the softball season in the spring. After recovering she has stepped back into the six-week tennis season and given the Lightning a big boost on the No. 1 doubles team, Olson said.
“She’s back on the court very quickly [after surgery] … and I don’t want to put her in a position where she gets a lot of wear and tear on her body,” Olson said. “We’re just day-to-day looking at how she feels, and we’ll pick and choose which matches she plays.”
She played in all three team victories. She sat out the team’s lone defeat as of Wednesday, a 4-3 loss to Rochester Mayo.
“Everyone on the team plays an important role,” Barry said. “My partner in doubles [Mackenzie Novak] and I have played well together, but everyone on the team pushes each other to improve.”
Jordan Kopfer said her team has quite a bit of depth — Novak, a sophomore and Kopfer’s cousin, is one example — and the work everyone seemed to put in the offseason has put the Lightning in a position for success this fall.
“We had a really good year last year, and I’m really excited to see what we’ll do this year,” said Kopfer, who finished third at the Class 2A state singles tournament last year. “I think we can have a really good year and do even better.”
The Eastview girls want to earn a trip to state as a team, Barry said, but they aren’t focused on specific goals.
“We know we’ll have some individual [accomplishments],” said Barry, who made it to state in doubles last year. “But we just want to improve every time we’re on the court, never give up in a match, and just believe that we can achieve what we want.”