BY ROB LAPLANTE
The St. Michael-Albertville girls’ tennis team lost its semifinal matchup with top-seed Mounds View 6-1 last Wednesday at Reed-Sweatt in Minneapolis.
After the Knights knocked off both Park Center and Blaine at home in the Section 5AA playoffs, they had a huge uphill battle against No. 1 seed Mounds View.
The Mustangs have a deep roster with Class AA’s, No. 2-ranked player in junior Summer Brills.
STMA senior Cierra Eystad had the dubious task of facing off against Brills and she lost in straight sets 6-0, 6-0.
“We knew Mounds View was going to be a tough match” said head coach Jim Riles. “We were pretty happy with how we played. They just hit the ball a little harder and more consistent than we did. They came up with the big points.”
The Knights only point in the match came at No. 4 singles. Freshman Kiana Eystad finished the season a perfect 23-0 after defeating her opponent, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.
“Kiana had a great year for us and she likely will play at the No. 2 singles spot next year,” Riles said.
The Knights will lose eight seniors. Cierra Eystad and Breanna Haggerty played top four singles most the year. Gone from the starting doubles are Kylie Slavin, Halley Fritze, Erika Duley, Michaela Haraldson, Erika Duley, Brittney Ferrian and Kristina Budde.
Returning will be junior Jessica Duda and Kiana Eystad at singles and Brittany Haas, Emily Tschida and Shelbie Olek from doubles.
“We had a great year,” said Riles, referring to an 18-5 season. It was the team’s best finish since an 18-4 year in 2007. “Mounds View girls play in a lot of summer tournaments. I’m hoping our girls do a lot more of that.”
The Knights will hold their annual (grades 9-12) end of the season banquet on Nov. 5 at the Middle School West cafeteria. It will start at 6:30 p.m.