10/23/2020 10:58:00 AM The heartbreak of 'what if' resonates with the CL tennis team
Nearly every sport has been affected by COVID-19, and the Chisago Lakes girls tennis team is no exception.
But, Head Coach Jon Erickson really believed this team had that special something to make a deep section run and for some potential fireworks at the state tournament.
The team was chock full of experience seniors and a junior anchor up top in Greta Gillach. They were 11-1 on the season, and 9-1 in the conference with their only loss as a close one to Becker. Gillach won the Mississippi 8 Conference Most Valuable Player and was also All Conference, joined by Emily and Jill Erickson, Grace DeVries and Chloe Zupko.
The ‘Cats received the second seed in the sections and had won their opening round match up before the season abruptly ended due to Chisago Lakes High School shutting down for two weeks due to positive Covid-19 tests.
“This team was by far the most fun team I have had in more than 15 years of coaching. We had seven seniors on varsity that provided strong leadership and a developed a team culture that will benefit the program for seasons to come. The girls were so much fun to see every day and the season was a really great experience for everyone involved,” Erickson said. “We were notified of the postseason opportunity just before the end of the regular season and we received a two seed behind the always great program in Elk River. This seed gave us a nice pathway on which to make a deep run into the playoffs and the girls were all very excited. We played North Branch for our first round and beat them 6-1. We were ready to go against Andover when our season came to a screeching halt on Thursday, October 8. I was notified that because of an increase in COVID activity, the district was required to shift from the hybrid model to a two-week all distance learning ‘reset’. All activities were suspended for that time period. Because the tennis sectional championships needed to be completed by October 24, that effectively ended our season.
“It is really hard to express how disappointed the girls and the coaches were when they found out that this meant the end of our season. It was especially frustrating because the team had worked extra hard to follow all of the MSHSL return to participation requirements. In almost all of the matches, we were following a more rigid safety protocol than the teams we were competing against.
“After a few days, a sense of acceptance by the girls and coaches prevailed, but this team was a team for the ages and I’m convinced they would have represented Chisago Lakes all the way to the section 7AA finals. We will never know, and I suppose that’s what makes this even harder.”