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2013 Fall Sports Preview: Anderson, Robinson look to build on breakthough 2012 season for East Ridge girls tennis team

East Ridge’s Taylor Anderson, left, and Natalie Robinson are back to help lead the Raptors girls tennis team this fall. Bulletin file photo

Last year, East Ridge’s Taylor Anderson and Natalie Robinson made history. This year, they’re back to help lead the Raptors girls tennis team.

In 2012, Anderson and Robinson became the first tennis players in school history to reach the state tournament. The doubles team finished as runners-up in the Section 4AA tournament to earn a trip to state. Anderson, now a senior, and Robinson, a sophomore this year, went 16-0 in East Ridge’s dual matches last season, including going a perfect 9-0 record in their Suburban East Conference matches.

East Ridge head coach Jon Rydberg, entering his fifth year at the helm of the Raptors, said “depth” is the team’s biggest strength and that he has “knowledgeable” doubles players.

“We have very deep and good singles players, but we don’t have the high state-ranked singles players as some other schools have that we play,” Rydberg said.

While it’s unknown if Anderson and Robinson will play doubles again this year — Robinson was a singles player as an eighth grader — the two will definitely be among the East Ridge tennis players to watch this fall. This will be Anderson’s fifth year playing varsity for East Ridge. Robinson has been playing varsity since the seventh grade.

Other key players returning to the team include: Anna Bearrood, Natalie’s sister Nicole Robinson, Minh-Tu Van, Regan Dolezal, Megan Karrow, Sophie Stark and Audri Sturm. Anderson and Bearrood will act as team captains this season.

“All our returners from last year are key to our success in 2013,” Rydberg said.

East Ridge also welcomes promising newcomers in Katelyn Champoux and Sahana Iyer this season.

This year, East Ridge will need to replace Natalie Curdova along with the team’s No. 1 singles player from last year, Maddie Blake, who was the No. 5 seed in the section singles tournament.

Last year, the Raptors finished 10-8 overall and 4-5 in the Suburban East Conference — good for sixth place. After beating White Bear Lake 5-2 in the quarterfinals of the Section 4AA tournament, East Ridge battled top-seeded Stillwater to within one point, before falling 4-3 to the Ponies in the semifinals. Stillwater went on to win the Section 4AA championship with a 6-1 win over second-seeded Mahtomedi.

Rydberg said he expects Stillwater, Mounds View and Forest Lake to be the teams to beat in the Suburban East this season, with Stillwater and Mahtomedi returning as the top teams in the section.

—Patrick Johnson

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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