2012 Fall Preview: Despite youthful lineup, East Ridge girls tennis team trying to move up standings
East Ridge head coach Jon Rydberg returns for a fourth season at the helm of the Raptors girls tennis team armed with a roster full of underclassmen.
Off a 9-9 overall season last year, East Ridge has only one senior in its projected lineup entering this fall.
"We have decent depth on our team, but almost all will be playing new positions this year and many are very young," Rydberg said. "We should move up in the conference once again this year however despite having only two seniors."
Rydberg also said it was his goal for the team to repeat its "Gold Status" academic status, which it achieved with an average GPA of 3.92 in 2011.
"Playing well, giving back to the local tennis community, and performing at the highest level academically, is what I take most pride in with our student-athletes," Rydberg said.
East Ridge senior Maddie Blake will lead the way at No. 1 singles for the Raptors this season. A team captain, along with junior Taylor Anderson, Blake went 10-8 individually last fall and earned All-Conference and Team MVP awards. A pair of freshmen follow Blake on the projected singles lineup card in Nicole Robinson, who was 12-6 last year and Minh-Tu Van, who went 7-8. Seventh grader Megan Karrow is expected to be either the Raptors' No. 4 singles player or be a part of one of East Ridge's three doubles teams.
In doubles pairings, Anderson and freshman Natalie Robinson are expected to be East Ridge's No. 1 doubles team with junior Anna Bearrood and seventh grader Regan Dolezal as the No. 2 doubles team. Junior Hannah Jacobs will also likely be relied upon in the doubles tandems.
Part of the reason for the youth movement at East Ridge is the losses of top players from 2011 including Emily Mueller, Leah Robinson and Hannah Strom. In last year's individual section tournament, Leah Robinson advanced as far as any other Raptor, winning two matches to reach the quarterfinals, before falling to top-seeded Natalie Phippen of Stillwater in straight sets to end her season. In doubles play, Mueller and Anderson also reached the section quarterfinals, beating Tartan 6-0, 6-0 in round No. 1 and St. Paul Central 2-6, 6-1, 6-0 in the second round. However, in the quarterfinals, Mueller and Anderson fell to top-seeded Spencer Comfort and Bailey Kent in a three-setter, 7-5, 2-6, 1-6.
East Ridge kicks off the season without Rydberg - who is in London playing for Team USA in the Paralympic Games. Rydberg is hoping for "a smooth transition."
The Raptors started the season 1-0 with a 5-2 win over rival Woodbury in the season-opener last week.