BY DAVID PEDERSEN
All the negative memories were forgotten and all kinds of positive ones created when Delano’s doubles team of Laura and Cassy Finn captured the consolation championship at the state Class AA tennis tournament last Friday at the University of Minnesota.
There was the first state medal won since Delano moved from Class A to AA 2007. The Finn sisters overcame frustrations from not making it to state last year.
The doubles team avenged a loss to Minnetonka in the section title match by winning to claim consolation honors. Probably the most pleased with the turn of events was their coach and mother Kim Finn.
It can even be said that the loss in the first round of the state tourney was a positive because Delano at a shot at the eventual state champions from Rochester Century.
By the un-luck of the draw, Delano opened against another sister team of Jessica and Katherine Aney. Jessica won the state AA singles title as a seventh- and eighth-grader and decided to join her sister in the attempt to win a state doubles crown.
Jessica, the national Sports Illustrated Kid of the Year in 2010, is only a ninth-grader, but will be heading to a higher level of play as she prepares to be a professional.
The Finn sisters lost to the Aney sisters 6-2 and 6-2. Delano rebounded to beat the teams from St. Cloud Tech 6-1 and 6-2 and Stillwater 6-4 and 6-2. That put the Tigers in the consolation title match against Minnetonka, a familiar foe.
Delano lost to Minnetonka 6-1 in the section team tourney. Laura Finn upset Bri Smith at No. 1 singles. In the individual tourney, both Finn and Smith switched to doubles, where the Minnetonka duo finished on top of the Finn sisters.
The last time the teams met, Minnetonka started slow by losing the first set and then won the next two. This time the Skippers came on strong to dominate the first set 6-1.
Coach Finn said her daughters got over the shock and adjusted strategy to win the second set 6-3. The first to 10 point (must win by 2) tie-breaker was an up and down affair. Delano was up 3-0, down 9-8 and up 10-9. Some seven tie-breaks later, the Tigers emerged with the 15-13 victory.
“When they missed going to state last year it was a heart-breaker,” said coach Rue. “To end with a state award this year is a dream come true. The tie-breaker against Minnetonka was nerve racking but Cassy and Laura focus on each and every point.”
Laura thought “it was cool” to face one of the top players in the state ever, joking about how when Jessica Aney turns pro they can say they played her at state.
“She plays like it is effortless,” adds Laura. “She has so much talent and experience that she knows what to do with every single shot. It is hard to think of a strategy because she is everywhere on the court.”
Laura ended a six-year varsity career where she played at No. 1 singles for three years. She says she loved having her mom as her coach.
“Cassy and I both wanted to play soccer when we were younger,” recalls Laura. Since all of our extended family had tennis in the blood we gave tennis a shot and loved it.”
Cassy thought that after the first match the doubles team thought it could win consolation if “we gave it our all.” She also was glad to have the rematch against Minnetonka.
Last year was the first time the sisters played doubles together. Cassy said they were not ready for state last year and got mad at each other a couple times.
“This year we realized it was Laura’s last season sow e decided to play to have fun and make it our year.”
The state medal capped a great season for Delano tennis, finishing second in a big school section and claiming a seventh straight Wright County Conference title.