SIOUX FALLS — Mitchell edged Yankton by eight points for top honors in the South Dakota State Class A Girls’ Tennis Tournament.
The tournament, the first in the new two-class format, saw both the Kernels and Gazelles earn four state titles. Mitchell claimed titles at flights three and five singles, and flights one and two doubles. Yankton won flights one, two and five singles, and flight three doubles. Mitchell scored 492.5 points, followed by the Gazelles (484.5), Aberdeen Roncalli (390) and Rapid City Christian (359).
“When things get close, doubles is where you get the bulk of your points,” said Yankton head coach Vanessa Rockne. “Everyone on our team brought home hardware, and five of them won a state championship. We have nothing to be disappointed about.
For Yankton, they were the first four state champions ever for the program.
Senior Josie Krajewski outlasted Ella Hancock of Rapid City Christian 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 for the flight one singles crown.
“I started out strong, but I got nervous in the second set, started overthinking things,” Krajewski said. “(Coaches) Vanessa (Rockne) and Mike (Briggs) talked me back down.”
Sophomore Maggie Schaefer rallied from a slow start to win the flight two singles title, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, over Mitchell’s Atlanta Stahle.
“I just wanted us to go in and do our best,” Schaefer said of the tournament. “I wanted us to have fun, and to make sure we had a good memory to look back on.”
One of two “upset” champions for the Gazelles was senior Stacia Sherman at flight five singles. The third-seeded Sherman beat top-seeded Ali Muller of Aberdeen Roncalli 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 in the final, and beat second-seeded Amber Moller of Mitchell 6-2, 7-5 in the semifinals.
“I had to keep telling myself, ‘It’s all up to you,’” Sherman said of handling Muller’s rally. “The biggest thing is the mental game.”
Seniors Maddie Binder and Peyton Tramp were the seventh seed at flight three doubles, but scored a 6-1, 6-3 decision over Rapid City Christian in the final. The duo knocked off the second, sixth and fourth seeds on the way to the title.
“It’s insane. It doesn’t feel real,” Tramp said. “I never thought it was doable in my Yankton tennis career.”
Tramp played to her seed at flight six singles, dropping a 6-0, 6-2 decision to Mitchell’s Ashley Jones for the title. Jones came in as the top seed, Tramp second.
Binder scored a 10-0 win over Madison’s Emma Kruger in the flight four singles third place match. Binder fell to Allison Schock of Roncalli in the semifinals. Schock went on to win the title.
“I thought I started a little slow in the first match,” Binder said. “I felt like I did a good job in the third place match against Madison.”
Senior Olivia Tennant, seeded fifth, earned third place at flight three singles with a 10-6 victory over Rapid City Christian’s Julia Anderson.
“I’m really proud of myself,” Tennant said. “It’s been a goal of mine to get on the podium in my career.”
In the flight two doubles championship match, Mitchell outlasted Yankton’s Schaefer and Sherman 6-1, 6-2.
Yankton finished fourth at flight one doubles, as Krajewski and Tennant dropped a 10-7 decision to Milbank in the third place match.
“We were super happy with how we played in both our doubles matches,” Krajewski said. “It still doesn’t feel real. (Getting on the podium) has been a goal for my entire tennis career.”
Five members of the Gazelles were named to the all-tournament team: Krajewski, Schaefer, Sherman, Binder and Tramp.
Five of the six Gazelles on the state tournament roster are seniors.
“A lot of us have been playing tennis with each other since the seventh grade. We grew up with the sport,” Binder said. “It feels great to do so well at the state tournament.”
Schaefer will be the lone varsity player returning next season, but she feels this year’s seniors helped build a strong foundation.
“I started playing in eighth grade, and they (this year’s seniors) added me in and made me want to get better,” she said. “It was so much fun to play with all of them.”
Rockne thanked the seniors for their efforts as well.
“We are going to miss some great leaders,” she said. “I feel like they did a great job of leaving their mark on the program.”
Vermillion finished 11th with 30.5 points. The Tanagers lost both of their matches on the day.
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