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PL Netters Seeking Bigger Gains On The Court

09/04/2022, 11:15pm CDT
By Tom Schardin

Can the Prior Lake girls tennis team return to past glory?

The Lakers return their entire singles lineup from last year’s team that finished 9-7 overall (5-4 in the South Suburban Conference). Overall, nine varsity members are back for Prior Lake, including co-captains, junior Tianna Houske and senior Alyssa Lam.

“It’s looking to be a fun year,” Lakers coach PJ Priest said. “We are much improved from last year.”

Juniors Rose Netz, Olivia Newman, Mia Ngo and Shelby Gambucci, sophomores Haven Fisher and Tory Cvancara and ninth-grader Chloe Soundara are also expected to contribute to the varsity.

Priest is hoping his team can contend for the SSC title as well as make a run in Section 2AA play. The Lakers went 2-1 at sections last year, losing 4-3 to Eden Prairie in the semifinals.

It was the third straight year Prior Lake fell a win short of the section title match.

Prior Lake was one of state’s better programs from 2011 to 2018. In that span, the Lakers were the Section 3AA runner-up in 2011, before winning three straight Section 3AA crowns from 2012 to 2014.

Prior Lake was moved to Section 2AA in 2015, winning the title that season and again in 2016. The Lakers lost to Minnetonka in the section title match in both 2017 and 2018.

In 2019, Prior Lake fell to Minnetonka in the section semifinals. It was the first time in nine seasons the Lakers were not playing in a section final. There was no 2020 postseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, in SSC play, the Lakers dominated from 2011 to 2018, winning seven of eight conference titles in that span with a combined league record of 70-1. The team has a 15-12 mark over the last three years in the conference play.

Prior Lake graduated just three seniors from last year’s squad, so the Lakers could be more of a factor in the SSC and in the postseason. Lakeville South is the team to beat in the conference, while Burnsville and Shakopee also look like contenders.

Not only is Minnetonka the defending Section 2AA champion, but the Skippers won the Class 2A state title last fall. Eden Prairie and Shakopee will also be strong playoff squads.

Chaska, Chanhassen, Hutchinson, Jordan, Glencoe-Silver Lake, Mankato West, Mankato East/Loyola, Marshall, Mound Westonka, New Prague, New Ulm, St. Peter, Waconia and Worthington are also in the field.

The Lakers’ first conference match is set for Aug. 25 at home versus Farmington.

Prior Lake ends the regular season at home against Jordan Sept. 29. The Section 2AA team tournament will start Oct. 3 with the title match Oct. 11 at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.

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