1. Blake, where it belongs
The debate about which classification is the right one for private schools never seems to ease up. After this season, you can remove Blake from the list of teams that play below their talent level. The Bears have one more year in Class 1A before moving to Class 2A next season. They should dominate with the top three singles players in the class in Ben Ingbar, Jack Barker and Joe Mairs. Then there’s the sting of losing to archrival Breck — eventual winners of the Class 1A championship — in the Section 2 finals last year.
2. Can the Skippers repeat?
Last season Minnetonka won its first Class 2A team championship since 1974. The Skippers return most of their talent from a year ago, including No. 1 singles player Ben Wheaton, a junior who is the latest high-level player from Minnesota’s first family of tennis. Sophomore Matthew Kregness and senior Ahmed Atayev join him as experienced singles players, and according to coach Dave Stearns, “They’re all looking pretty good.” The last two Lake Conference teams to win championships, Wayzata and Edina, both won two in a row (Edina in 2008 and 2009, Wayzata in 2013 and 2014). The Skippers have a terrific chance to follow suit.
3. The challengers
Class 2A: East Ridge has elevated its program on the strength of six seniors who have helped it to three consecutive Class 2A tournament appearances, finishing third twice. With the state’s No. 1-ranked singles player in senior Ben van der Sman, the Raptors are poised to take the next step.
Class 1A: Defending champion Breck lost its No. 1 singles player (Lewis White) but has three singles players ranked in the top 10 in sophomore Karthik Papisetty (No. 5) and the Metz brothers, freshmen Thomas (No. 6) and Matthew (No. 7). But to repeat, the Mustangs will have to get by Blake again in the Section 2 playoffs.