There was a time this season, not more than a month or so ago, when the possibility of a team other than Edina winning the Class 2A girls’ tennis state championship seemed like more than just a wispy “what if?”
The Hornets had lost their second team match of the season, to Prior Lake, an occurrence that hasn’t happened since they began their current streak of 19 consecutive Class 2A titles.
Was Edina finally vulnerable? Is there another team out there poised to be the first since Bloomington Jefferson in 1996 to win the championship?
Not so fast. The tournament begins Tuesday and look who is seeded No. 1: Edina.
While the Hornets might not be as dominant as they have been in years past, they certainly have the look of a team ready to make it a cool 20 in a row. Junior Sophie Reddy, who missed the first two weeks of the season, is solidly ensconced as the top-ranked player in Class 2A. Freshman Nicole Copeland has found a home at No. 2 singles. And Edina is once again the team to beat.
Of course, anything can happen. St. Cloud Tech is undefeated (18-0), defeated Edina in the season opener and features the talented Tarrolly sisters in senior Taylor, junior Katelyn and eighth-grader Ashley. The Tigers were seeded No. 2 despite probably deserving the top seed, with the rationale being that picking against Edina has been proven foolish.
Eagan’s South Suburban Conference championship earned the Wildcats the No. 3 seed, while two-time Class 2A runner-up Prior Lake was seeded fourth.
Teams are not seeded in Class 1A. If they were, it’s safe to say defending champion Blake would earn the No. 1 seed and everyone else would be battling for No. 2. The Bears have been overwhelming in the small-school class this year, losing only to Edina (the Hornets’ racquet prints are everywhere) and Mounds View. Senior Libby Rickeman, the 2015 singles champion, has been No. 1 in the coaches association rankings all season. The Bears have two more players ranked in the top 10, freshman Arlina Shen (No. 3) and junior Lainey Axell (No. 8).
It’s not as if the rest of the Class 1A field are patsies. Six of the seven remaining teams also finished the season ranked among the top 10 — Rochester Lourdes (No. 3), Foley (No. 4), Holy Family (No. 5), Minnewaska (No. 6), St. James (No. 7) and Roseau (No. 10). But it would take an upset of major proportions to derail Blake.
The Class 2A tournament will be at the University of Minnesota’s Baseline Tennis Center. The Class 1A tournament will be at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in south Minneapolis. Team competition in both classes is Tuesday and Wednesday, with individual singles and doubles on Thursday and Friday.