BY ROB LAPLANTE
The St. Michael-Albertville girls’ tennis team continued its hot start, sweeping a pair of matches Friday at the STMA Triangular.
Earlier in the week, the Knights posted a 2-1 record at the STMA Quadrangular. Wins over Park Center (6-1) and St. Cloud Apollo (7-0) highlighted the opening meet of the season. The only blemish came in a close fought 4-3 loss to Annandale.
The Knights closed out a successful opening week of play with a 2-0 record at the triangular. STMA defeated Spring Lake Park 5-2 and followed that up with another 5-2 win over Blaine.
Freshman Kiana Eystad went 2-0 playing at No. 3 singles. She posted wins of 6-2, 6-4 against Spring Lake Park and won a hard fought 6-3, 6-4 match over Blaine. She has won her first five matches this season. “Kiana really battled in this match and would not give in,” said STMA head coach Jim Riles.
Kiana’s older sister Cierra Nystad also went undefeated at the triangular. Cierra posted a 6-0, 6-4 victory playing No. 1 singles over Spring Lake Park. She then was shifted to No. 1 doubles alongside senior Kylie Slavin and the duo posted a 6-3, 6-1 win over Blaine.
Cierra had played No. 1 singles in each of the first four matches this season. With Riles moving her to doubles, he inserted junior Jessica Duda to the top singles slot. Duda had the tall order of facing Blaine standout Mary Swanson – who is ranked as one of the top 10 ranked singles players in the state. Swanson would defeat Duda by identical scores of 6-1, 6-1.
Senior’s Halley Fritze and Kristina Budde went 2-0 playing No. 2 doubles. Senior Michaela Haraldson and Shelbie Olek also won both their matches on Friday.
“I thought our doubles really improved with each match and were a lot more consistent compared to our earlier matches,” Riles said. “We tried mixing up our doubles and I thought they all moved and played well together. I thought our singles players had strong ball placement. It was a great effort by all the girls.”
The junior varsity girls’ tennis team also posted wins over Blaine and Spring Lake Park. They defeated both the Bengals and Panthers by the identical 5-2 scores and improved its early season record to 5-0.
The varsity girls defeated Anoka on Monday, sweeping all seven matches. It improved its overall record to 5-1. They took on Totino-Grace on Wednesday (results were unavailable due to deadlines). STMA’s next match will be its first conference matchup when they host Buffalo on Tuesday at 4 p.m.