September 23, 2010 at 10:04 a.m.
St. Louis Park 4, Chisago Lakes 3
The Wildcats got a tough draw to start their North Suburban Conference schedule earlier this season when they had to take on the Spring Lake Park Panthers and St. Louis Park Orioles in back-to-back matches.
But, Head Coach Corey McKinnon didn't want his girls to focus on the wins and losses, instead he wanted them to go out and have fun and get better, and things have been on the up and up since the pair of opening losses. "Those were both good teams, and we've been making a lot of progess since then," McKinnon said. "The girls have been working hard."
Chisago Lakes 7, Cooper 0
The Wildcats got a breather against Cooper, but McKinnon still wanted to challenge the girls, and despite the 7-0 score, the matches were still very competitive. Ashley Paul won 6-4, 6-3 at first singles, Shannon Sullivan won 6-1, 7-5 at second singles and Kaylee Carlson won 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 at third singles.
"Every match has given us some feedback on what we need to get better at and what we're already good at," McKinnon said.
Benilde-St. Margaret's 7, Chisago Lakes 0
The Sept. 8 match against Totino-Grace was rescheduld, as McKinnon was expecting his third child to be born that day, but it turned out to be the next day, when the Wildcats had to take on BSM.
With McKinnon absent, and an abundance of talent on the Red Knight squad, the Wildcats struggled to hang with them. "Even in the loss, though, I got some feedback that the firls played very well, and won a few sets here and there. They just came out there to compete, compete, compete," he said.
Chisago Lakes 4, Irondale 3
This North Suburban Conference match up came down to the last match, and the resolve and poise of Chisago Lakes came through in the end.
The match started with two quick losses by CL, as Sullivan and Paul dropped their matches at first and second singles. Sammy Hindt got the 'Cats on the board first with a 6-3, 6-3 win at third singles.
Claire Bakken and Kelsey Braski also took care of business, finishing their third doubles match with a 6-4, 6-4 victory.
After Ali Borgstrom and Maddie Howard dropped their match at second doubles, the first doubles pair of Ali Mohr and Jaci Vitali came through with a three-set win that evened the match at three.
With only Carlson still playing at fourth singles, it came down to that match. Carlson had won the first match, coming back from down 5-6 to winning the tiebreaker 7-4. She lost the second set 4-6, but her third set was never in question, as she dominated 6-2. "With the match on the line, she really came through and picked her opponent apart," McKinnon said after the win.
East Ridge Tournament
Last week, the Wildcats participated in an eight-team tournament featuring some very talented schools, and the underdog Wildcats came away with a third place finish.
It was a bracketed tournament that was mostly to showcase individuals. And showcase is what the Wildcats did.
Sullivan won the consolation championship at first singles, a feat nearly matched by Mohr at second singles as she fell in the consolation championship match.
At third singles, Hindt took third place after a back and forth battle in the semi-finals, and Carlson took home the crown at fourth singles, winning three straight matches.
Vitali and Paul finished fourth at first doubles, Howard and Borgstrom matched that at second doubles and Bakken and Braski finished seventh at third doubles. "We had a very good day," McKinnon said after the grueling schedule wrapped. "The girls fought hard, but competed very well."
South St. Paul won the tournament on points, and East Ridge finished in second. Chisago Lakes tied with Woodbury for third. The biggest indicator of how far the 'Cats have come, though, came in the form of a defeat of Spring Lake Park. The Panthers won the match up 4-3 earlier this year, but in head-to-head matches in the tournament, Chisago went 4-2 and finished ahead of the Panthers.
Chisago Lakes 6, St. Francis 1
The girls kept battling against the Saints, and they were rewarded with a big win in the end.
Sullivan won her first singles match easily, 6-2, 6-4. "She played very well," McKinnon said. "Her opponent was tough, and it was just the two of them slugging it out and scrapping for every point, but Shannon came out ahead."
At second singlest, Paul had a rough first set, losing 2-6, but she came back and almost took the second set, eventually falling 5-7. "If this was best three of five, Ashley could've won," McKinnon lamented. "She was just starting to get her momentum, but couldn't quite get the second set."
Hindt and Carlson both swept their way through third and fourth singles, while Mohr and Vitali struggled during their first set. The pair won, but it was 7-5. However, their momentum carried them in the second set as they just kept rolling, and won 6-0.
Howard and Borgstrom won in straight sets at second doubles, and Bakken and Braski won 7-5, 3-6, 7-4 in third doubles. McKinnon was really impressed with their play in the tiebreak, and the teams overall performance in the pressure-packed situations. "Since the St. Louis Park match, we are 4-1 in tiebreakers." he said. Asked why his team has performed so well in the spots, he said it's because they have a lot of actual competition in practice and the girls are used to playing meaningful points all the time. "The game matches are becoming second nature because we're so competitive in practice," McKinnon noted.
Chisago Lakes 7, North Branch 0
In another sweep, the Wildcats did a few more positive things besides just the wins. At second doubles, Howard and Borgstrom lost the first set, but came back to win the second one to send it to a third set. In that third set, the Wildcat pair was down 4-1, but battled back to win the set 6-4.
McKinnon was also impressed with the way Paul bounced back from her loss against St. Francis the night before and won 6-2, 6-2 against the always-game Emily Ziegler.