Raptors claim first varsity victory
It wasn't exactly "The Battle of Bailey Road," but on a sunny, windswept Monday, East Ridge High School earned its first-ever varsity win as the Raptors girls tennis team defended its sparkling hew home court and defeated neighboring New Life Academy, 5-2.
"Our team was very excited to not only be the first East Ridge team to play, but also be the first to win," ERHS coach Jon Rydberg said.
It didn't take long for the Raptors duo of Taylor Anderson and Maddie Blake to make school history as the pair won their second doubles match (6-0, 6-0) over the Eagles team of Greta Lehn and Wendy Ho approximately 40 minutes after the match's 10 a.m. start to put East Ridge into the win column for the first time.
"We tried our best and it paid off," Anderson said, briefly describing her and Blake's feat as "sweet."
The Raptors top doubles team of Hannah Strom and Meghan Tomai pushed their team's advantage to 2-0 with a 6-2, 6-0 win over NLA's Hannah Jacobs and Aliss Wen, before ERHS' No. 3 tandem of Elena Wolk and Oksana Carlier made it a doubles sweep for the hosts with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Marta Lehn and Bre Wallace.
Just before noon, Sarah Kostelecky clinched East Ridge's inaugural conquest with a 7-5, 6-3 win against New Life's Shelby Derrick at No. 3 singles -- the fourth Raptors win of the day -- before No. 4 singles player Laura Zimny topped Leah Olfelt in three sets (5-7, 1-6, 3-6) for the home team's fifth and final favorable result.
"So far, so good," Rydberg said of ERHS' performance on the day.
New Life pulled off two victories on the day, the first coming from No. 2 single Kelly Stein, who topped Emily Mueller (6-2, 6-1) in the pre-noon hour.
The final contest of the glorious afternoon came at No. 1 singles where New Life's Cara Lutes engaged East Ridge's Leah Robinson in a three-hour marathon that eventually went the lead Eagles' way after a third-set tiebreaker (5-7, 6-3, 7-6: 7-3) as NLA finished off matters with the club's second win.
"I was very happy that our singles matches were close," Eagles coach Kathy Lutes said. "It's very exciting to play on these brand new courts on a beautiful day."
Both teams got extra work in on the day as players from both squads took on each other in a series of exhibition matches to further hone their skills before conference matches to come.
"It was really nice to get in all those extra matches," coach Lutes said. "Jon (Rydberg) and East Ridge were very kind to have us out here to play them today."
The Raptors will co-host a quadrangular tournament with Woodbury High School beginning at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, then are off until next Monday, when they travel to Red Wing for another non-conference match before beginning their first Suburban East Conference season on Sept. 3 at Park High School.
The Eagles make their way to Cannon Falls for a tournament on Tuesday, then will scrimmage Woodbury on Thursday before playing St. Paul Arlington at Arkwright Park in the Capitol City on Sept. 3.