BY ROB LAPLANTE
The Mississippi 8 Conference title came down to one final match.
Monday’s match between Big Lake and the St. Michael-Albertville girls’ tennis team had a conference title on the line. The Knights had a chance earlier in the week to clinch the M-8 title outright, but Buffalo had other ideas.
The Bison assured themselves a share of the title after defeating STMA 4-3 last Thursday. It spoiled the Knights’ chance to celebrate on Buffalo’s home court, as an STMA victory would have assured the Knights a conference title.
The Knights had defeated Buffalo 5-2 earlier in the season, but with a conference title on the line, the Bison changed its strategy at home.
“They loaded up their doubles by moving their No. 2 and 3 singles players there,” said head coach Jim Riles. “They have the No. 1 singles player in the conference and they wanted to win that point and sweep the doubles.”
The loss meant the Knights had to win at Big Lake, as part of a makeup match that was washed away earlier in the season. The Knights had defeated Big Lake 7-0 the previous week and Monday’s pivotal matchup had STMA winning 6-1, earning a share of the M-8 title with Buffalo. Both teams finished the season 8-2 in the conference.
The Knights finished the regular season 16-4-0
Section 5AA Tournament
The Section 5AA tournament begins Thursday at the school that’s seeded highest. Winners advance to Friday and again will be played at the school of the highest seed. STMA likely will receive a top-5 seed and will likely host a first-round match.
Centennial (18-1-1) and Mounds View (10-2) are the top two teams in the section and both teams are ranked top-10 in the state. There are 14 teams in the section.
The 2012 state tournament will be held Oct. 23-26 at the Baseline Tennis Center in Minneapolis.