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Three sets of sisters currently play tennis for the Royals. From left, Shanna and Maura Stevenson, Taylor and Jenica Monkman and Katie and Ellie Kreibich. (Bulletin photo by Patrick Johnson)

Blue bloods: Sisters help bring family feel to Woodbury girls tennis team

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Woodbury High School girls tennis is a family affair.

Three sets of sisters currently play tennis for the Royals – Ellie and Katie Kreibich, Jenica and Taylor Monkman, and Maura and Shanna Stevenson.

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Katie Kreibich, Taylor Monkman and Shanna Stevenson are all senior captains and their younger sisters are all freshman. In addition, senior captain Greta Eisenrich is the younger sister of Woodbury 2012 graduate Rachel Eisenrich, who was a captain for the Royals, too.

Greta Eisenrich, 17, said her older sister was an influence on her deciding to play tennis.

“I used to play with her and it looked like she had a lot of fun on the team, so I decided to do it too,” she said. “Royals tennis has always been a really big part of my life and I’m really glad I decided to do it. It’s made my high school experience really fun.”

Greta Eisenrich, who plays No. 2 doubles with junior Claire Proesch, said it was nice to have her older sister on the team.

“When you’re a freshman it can be a little scary, but she was there for me and encouraged me,” she said. “I liked having her as an example. All the sisters on the team now get along really well I think. My sister and I are really close and so are they.”

Rachel Eisenrich currently plays tennis at Bethel University. Greta said she and Rachel play against each other often.

“I’ve beaten her twice, but never in an official match, just when we play over the summer,” she said. “She took it OK, she just said she had an off day.”

Katie Kreibich, 17, has been playing tennis for Woodbury for five years. She was all-conference as a junior as the Royals’ No. 1 singles player. She currently plays No. 1 doubles with fellow senior Taylor Monkman. Katie’s sister Ellie plays No. 3 doubles for the Royals.

“I’m glad she was on the team for my senior year,” Katie Kreibich said. “It’s been cool to share this with my sister. It’s probably the best year yet.”

Katie Kreibich said she believes Ellie makes her a better player.

“I feel like having her on the team helps me because I’m always trying to impress her,” she said. “We have a good family competition. She played really well this season.”

Shanna Stevenson, 17, is a team captain and the Royals’ No. 1 singles player. Her younger sister Maura plays fourth singles.

“It’s been a blessing having her on the team,” said Shanna Stevenson, who is in her fourth year playing tennis for Woodbury. “It’s nice to have that one-on-one interaction. Sometimes talking with your sister helps. We argue sometimes, but for the most part we get along really well.”

Shanna Stevenson said she began playing tennis at the urging of her mom, Patricia, who played tennis in high school in Michigan.

“Tennis is in the blood,” Shanna Stevenson said. “It runs in the family.”

Stevenson said having her younger sister on the team made her final season with the Royals even more special.

“It’s been really surreal,” Shanna Stevenson said. “I’m trying to take in every moment – every serve, every game, every set. It’s been absolutely awesome having her on the team and having all these seniors together for these four years.”

Shanna Stevenson said the girls on the team are all very close, which helped them succeed on the court.

“We’re all really good friends outside of tennis too,” she said. “It’s been really nice to have your best friends and your teammates be the same people. It hasn’t really hit me that it’s over. It’s going to be really sad.”

Woodbury went 7-7 overall this season and was 5-5 in the Suburban East Conference. The Royals, who were seeded fifth in Section 4AA, pulled off their biggest win of the year when they edged rival East Ridge, the fourth seed, 4-3 in the Section 4AA quarterfinals. Woodbury advanced to take on Hill-Murray in the semifinal at the Baseline Tennis Center on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis, but fell 6-1 to the Pioneers, who were the top seed in Section 4AA.

“I was really surprised at how far we got in our section,” said Taylor Monkman, who plays No. 1 doubles with Katie Kreibich. “To be able to do that as a team was really exciting. Then, to have our sisters there and now that they can get there too, or even farther, someday is cool. Hopefully they can build on that.”

Taylor Monkman, 17, started playing competitive tennis in seventh grade. This was her fifth year with the Royals and she’s played varsity the past three years. Her sister Jenica also currently plays for Woodbury.

The idea of building a legacy at Woodbury was something Taylor Monkman thought was important.

“It’s really cool to have someone that will follow in my footsteps in a way,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how (Jenica) improves over the next four years. By the time she’s a senior she’ll have had more experience than I have had and it’ll be interesting to see if she can beat me ever.”

Taylor Monkman, 17, said she and her sister “get along overall” and don’t fight on court, however, there are sisterly moments sometimes.

“My sister can be a little sassy,” Taylor Monkman said. “Sometimes I have to try not to give in to that and feed into it, because she likes it when I show anger to what she says sometimes. She is very good at pushing my buttons.”

Taylor Monkman said she’s looking forward to following the Royals after this year.

“I think they’re going to be a really good team once they are juniors and seniors,” she said. “I think our sisters have had a good background. I think once they’re juniors and seniors and the top dogs I think they’ll do really well and be good leaders too.”

-Patrick Johnson

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Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson has been the South Washington County Bulletin’s sports editor since 2008. He reports on and oversees coverage of high school and amateur sports in south Washington County and Woodbury. Prior to joining the Bulletin, Johnson worked for other Twin Cities suburban newspapers. He is a University of Minnesota graduate.
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