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Tennis: Tigers' tennis season wraps up

Senior Brooke Hapuku is pictured playing in her first singles match at the state tournament. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
Second singles player, senior Ellie Moser, reacts quickly during a match early in the season against Prior Lake. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 3
Freshman Ashley Renwick played second and third singles this season for the Tigers. Here she returns a softly hit ball during a match against Prior Lake. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

The Farmington girls' tennis team had an interesting season as they faced the bane of every sports team's existence: injuries.

However, head coach Blake Olmscheid said that his Tigers eventually ended up where they planned to be at the start of the season.

"It was an interesting road to get there," he said. "With the injuries, we experimented more with our lineup and that was a blessing in disguise for us in a couple different spots, because some people ended up getting thrown into positions that they normally wouldn't be in, ended up being some of our best contributors at the end of the year. It was a rocky road to get there, but the win in the first round of sections against Rochester John Marshall, that team that was on the court during that match, was what I had been looking for the entire year. So that was a really cool way to close the season out strong."

Though the team struggled at times due to the many changes, Olmscheid said that they had several individual great performances during the season.

"Brooke for one, making it to state and having a great season along the way, that's the most obvious thing that jumps out to me," he said. "But then we had a tournament in Buffalo that we did not have Ellie (Moser) for and we also did not have Brooke, so our one and two singles were scratched. So Ashley Renwick and Makayla Bauer had to move up from three and four singles to one and two. Ashley got a win at one against a very solid girls from Becker and Makayla had a very decent outing there too.

Olmscheid continued: "And when you talk about some of the people stepping up into the lineup, that was the first time we really had played Tori (senior Victoria Montbriand) at four singles and she was undefeated on that weekend. So we kind of got to see what the people at the bottom of our lineup could do if they were playing in the right spot and that showed up later in the year. Jamie (Ellis) and Kjerstin (Hall) had a really good win at one doubles, and going back to the Buffalo tournament again, they won the one doubles flight in Buffalo. We had some people playing out of position at high spots, but that was a good experience for them and then we had some solid wins at the bottom of the lineup. But the doubles lineup, which basically had remained intact for the entire year, they really stepped up and led the team with all the turmoil going on in the singles lineup and they started do that at that Buffalo tournament."

Passing the torch

The experience that some of the girls were able to gain when they otherwise would not have had the chance will benefit the team next year.

"We'll basically have four returning varsity players next year, four out of the 10" Olmscheid explained. "It's not something that you can replace and I think it would be putting a lot on the girls coming up next year to say that 'we're not expecting a drop off', because had a girl qualify for state individually and a one-doubles team that was all-conference honorable mention. There will be a learning curve, that's the only thing that the experience that they had this year is going to help, is to kind of ease that learning curve a little bit. Ashley (Renwick) has already had huge matches. So she's already been there and has experienced that pressure, and I think it's good for the other girls, Makayla, Taylor and Sydney, to get that experience and go through a round of sections and know what it takes to get there."

Graduating this spring are Alexandra Laube, Hapuku, Christine Steffes, Moser, Ellis, Hall and Montbriand. Even though this is Olmscheid's first year as head coach, he has been around the program and the girls for several years, having coached several in youth programs or through giving lessons.

"It's been great," he said about coaching his senior players. "I've had a lot of experience (with the players), I know these girls pretty well by now even though I haven't been coaching (varsity) for very long. I feel like I know their ticks and how they play and practice. It was fun to be there, and for me at least it felt like I was closing out their careers and it was cool to be there for that. I wouldn't say we were super heavy on vocal leadership this year, which is ok since they were awesome leaders by example, and they did a really good job of setting an example. Any success we have in the years to come are going to be in part because of what they instilled this past year as leaders."

Legacy

Lastly, they had the first singles qualifier for either boys' or girls' tennis in Farmington High School history in Brooke Hapuku.

"I'm not sure if Brooke will ever know how big of a deal it is, but her name will be up by the courts forever," Olmscheid finished. "We're going to put a state-qualifiers board up there, and I think that will be the coolest thing. We have had other qualifiers before, but to have her name up there as a singles qualifier from 2017, something that's recent that kids will be able to practice and look up and see that, and know that it is within reach and it is something that a tennis player from Farmington can do. That's going to be her legacy, making it to state, everybody will see her name and know they have a shot if they put their mind to it."

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a sports reporter and general assignment reporter at the Hastings Star Gazette. He is a journalism graduate of Drake University.

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