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PL Netters Win Playoff Opener, Finish 6-3 In Conference

10/08/2022, 10:45pm CDT
By Tom Schardin

The Prior Lake girls tennis team didn’t have any problems winning its first Section 2AA match.

The Lakers didn’t drop a set in rolling to a 7-0 win versus Worthington Oct. 4. Prior Lake (11-4 overall) went into the playoffs after solid season in the South Suburban Conference, finishing with a 6-3 record.

Prior Lake had a chance of earning a share of the title with two league matches remaining, but fell in both of them, 4-3 to Burnsville Sept. 28 and 5-2 to No. 8-ranked Lakeville South Sept. 27.

The Lakers’ other two losses in the regular season were 4-3 to Eagan in league play Sept. 20 and 7-0 to No. 1 Minnetonka in the season opener back on Aug. 23.

Minnetonka, the defending Class AA state champions, is the favorite to win Section 2AA. The semifinals and title match will be Oct. 11 at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.

Prior Lake went 2-1 in section play 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 loss 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 beating Worthington, Prior Lake lost just two total games in the four singles matches.

Junior Tianna Houske won at the No. 1 spot (6-1, 6-0), while senior Alyssa Lam rolled No. 2 (6-0, 6-1). Ninth grader Chloe Soundara and junior Shelby Gambucci both won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3 and 4, respectively.

In doubles, juniors Rose Netz and Olivia Newman rolled at the top spot (6-0, 6-0), while senior Madalyn Mische and sophomore Emily Eisma cruised at No. 3 (6-0, 6-0) and sophomores Tory Cvancara and Haven Fisher won at No. 3 (6-0, 6-1).

In the loss to Burnsville, Prior Lake split the four singles matches, but lost two of three in doubles.

Houske won at No. 1 singles in three sets (3-6, 6-2, 6-0), while Lam won at No. 2 (7-5, 6-1). The doubles win came from Soundara and Eisma at No. 2 (6-3, 6-2).

The Lakers’ No. 1 doubles team of Netz and Newman lost in three sets (6-7, 7-5, 6-2).

Prior Lake’s two wins against Lakeville South came from Houske at No. 1 singles (6-4, 6-4) and Gambucci at No. 4 (6-4, 6-0).

The Lakers ended the regular season Sept. 29 with a 6-1 win over Jordan. Prior Lake swept all three doubles matches.

Winning were Netz and Newman and No. 1 (6-4, 6-2), Mische and Eisma at No. 2 (6-2, 6-1) and juniors Mia Ngo and Natalie Kunz at No. 3 (5-7, 6-4, 10-5).

Singles wins went to Houske at No. 1 (6-0, 6-0), Lam at No. 2 (6-1, 6-2) and Gambucci at No. 3 (6-1, 6-1).

Prior Lake has a 21-15 record in the SSC over the last four seasons. From 2011 to 2018, the Lakers won seven of eight conference titles with a combined league record of 70-1.

The Section 2AA singles and doubles tournaments follow the team tourney, starting Oct. 13. The semifinals and title matches will be Oct. 18 in St. Peter.

This year’s state competition is set for Oct. 25-28 at the Baseline Tennis Center in Minneapolis. Team play is the first two days, followed the singles and doubles action the last two days.

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