BY ROB LAPLANTE
It’s not a perfect seven, but the St. Michael-Albertville girls’ tennis team walked the hallways the first week of classes with an impressive 7-1 record under its belt.
After impressive showings at the early season quadrangular and triangular tournaments, the Knights were a perfect 2-0 in dual meet matches heading into Tuesday’s conference showdown with Buffalo.
Deadlines prevented the final score from Tuesday’s Buffalo match, but the Knights continue conference play at 4 p.m. tonight at Big Lake.
Sophomore No. 4 singles player Kiana Eystad was 7-0 heading into Tuesday’s conference showdown with the Bison. Top singles player, senior Cierra Eystad was 4-3. Junior Jessica Duda was 5-2, with one of the losses coming against a top-10 singles player from Blaine.
If there is one area of concern early on, STMA head coach Jim Riles said it’s finding the right combinations at doubles. Riles has often shuffled his doubles partners early in the season and so far, every combination seems to work.
Senior Michaela Haraldson and sophomore Emily Tschida paired together at No. 3 doubles and won their match 6-4, 7-5 last Wednesday in a 4-3 victory over Totino-Grace. It was Tschida’s first win in her first career varsity match.
“I thought out two junior varsity players, Brittany Haas and Tschida, moved into the starting lineup and played well,” Riles said. “We are still trying to figure out our strongest doubles players and teams before conference play. But the Anoka win was a great effort by our doubles teams.”
The most important stat from the 7-1 pre-season start, was the fact the Knights posted a 4-0 record over section opponents.
“The Totino-Grace win was important for sections,” Riles said. “We knew it would be close. We lost 4-3 last year to them and with both teams having most their players returning, it made for another hard fought match.”
The Knights will host the STMA Invitational this Saturday at Middle School West. Mound Westonka and Rocori will participate. Matches start at 9 a.m.