Chisago Lakes competes for NSC title this week
Chisago Lakes competes for NSC title this week
Chisago Lakes 6, St. Louis Park 1 The Wildcats earned a big and convincing win over the St. Louis Park Orioles. In the past few years, SLP has caused fits for Chisago Lakes and the matches were always close, but this year was different. After Sammy Hindt lost at first singles to a state-ranked player, the Wildcats cruised to victory. Erica Ristow won 6-1, 6-3 at second singles, Amy Budde won 6-1, 6-2 at third singles and Isabel Hindt won 6-0, 6-1 at fourth singles. Doubles was no different. The ‘Cats swept clean through the tandem spots. Jaci Vitali and Maddie Howard won 6-0, 6-1, Shelby Houfer and Allison Gadbois won 6-1, 6-0 and Savannah Stendahl and Katie Jennissen won 6-0, 6-0. “You’d think we’re singles heavy the way we beat St. Louis Park, but we are just a young, very well-balanced team this year,” Head Coach Corey McKinnon said.
“We really played well against St. Louis Park and showed up ready to play. We really had them from the beginning and it was fun to watch.” Chisago Lakes 7, Irondale 0 Although the ‘Cats swept Irondale clean, it wasn’t an easy match, and things were even in doubt early. Sammy Hindt won her set quickly 6-1, 6-2. Vitali and Howard and Houfer and Gadbois were off the court right behind her with straight set wins to put CL up 3-0. However, the other four spots all lost their first sets. “Even though we were up 3-0, we were in trouble. We needed at least one win in three sets,” McKinnon said. They got more than one, in fact, getting all four, but that was by design. “I think this type of win is a testament to our girls and how they practice,” McKinnon said. “We compete a lot in practice and about 95 percent of what we do is live game action and I think that really helped. This match just exemplified our competitiveness. The girls played like it was just the middle of practice. Chisago Lakes 7, Robbinsdale Cooper 0 The Hawks didn’t put up near the fight that Irondale had. The Hindt sisters and Budde won easily in their singles matches, and all three doubles teams cruised to victories. The only struggle came from Ristow at second singles. She lost her first set 4-6, but rebounded for a 6-2, 6-1 victory. It was the second match in a row she lost the first set and came back to win in three.
“I love Erica’s game. She’s not afraid to make adjustments,” McKinnon explained of the junior. “I think that’s a real sign of resilience. She just started focusing on her footwork and demanded mental toughness from herself.” Chisago Lakes 7, Fridley 0 This match was even more lopsided than the Cooper tussle as the Tigers only won four points throughout all seven matches. But, McKinnon still thinks his team needs to learn lessons in matches like this. “It’s important that we are still ourselves and never act with arrogance,” he said. “It’s important for me that these girls handle themselves. I, or the girls on this team, won’t stand for any arrogance. “The last thing I talk about in any match is the score. That’s the least relevant thing to what we’re doing here. We just want our girls to play with sportsmanship and effort and to play good, clean tennis and I think we did that against Fridley.” Chisago Lakes 6, Totino-Grace 1 The Eagles provided another stiff test to the Wildcats earlier this week. It was very similar to the Irondale match. The ‘Cats won a few points early and big. Isabel Hindt won 6-3, 6-2, Ristow won 6-3, 6-1 after being down 0-3 in the first set, and Houfer and Gadbois won 6-4, 6-3.
However, Vitali and Howard had fallen fast, losing 2-6, 2-6 to Totino-Grace’s top doubles team. Vitali and her partner Ali Mohr had lost to the same tandem last year as they are one of the better senior pairs in the state. With a 3-1 lead, everything seemed comfortable, but Sammy Hindt and Amy Budde were sitting at a set apiece with their opponents and Stendahl and Jennissen were in a dogfight in the third set. Sammy Hindt won her match first, winning 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. “It was a long match for Sammy, but I think it’s better of for her career,” McKinnon said. “She showed a lot of fight in that match and I could almost see her taking it to a new level that she hasn’t taken it before.” Much like the Irondale match, the points kept falling in favor of Chisago Lakes. Budde finished her three set win off 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. “She just didn’t get down after losing the second set. She started hitting in the third set and recovered,” McKinnon explained of the sophomores tough match. “There is a fine line between playing with authority and trying to do too much and I think she tried to do a little too much in that second set.” At third doubles, Stendahl and Jennissen pulled their match off too, but it was a challenging victory. They won 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 (7-5). McKinnon praised his girls for their grittiness in three set matches, noting that the girls are 13-4 overall this year in three set matchs. “They are doing something right when you’re winning that many close matches,” he said. “All the points matter, but we are really fighting for those ones that really matter. We do what we do when a match is on the line.”
The Wildcats take on Benilde-St. Margaret’s on Thursday, Sept. 27 in what is essentially a conference championship game. Both teams are unbeaten in the North Suburban and their common opponent scores have been identical. “We just want our girls to go out there and assert themselves,” McKinnon said. “We don’t want to bring a fake arrogance to the match, but we aren’t going to play like a deer in the headlights. We’re going to leave it all on the courts. “This is a new era of Chisago Lakes tennis. We belong with these teams and we can beat these teams.”