By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
As St. James seniors Cassidy Chapek and Morgan Rankin headed into the third set of the No. 3 doubles match, they tried not to think about the end of their high school tennis careers.
They both knew the end was imminent, but they also realized they still had a set to win. As the 10-point tiebreaker progressed, Chapek and Rankin found themselves trailing 7-5. But each came through with a winning volley before Chapek ended a five-point run with a successful overhead slam.
The result was a 6-4, 4-6, 10-7 win for the duo, and that helped St. James defeat Osakis 7-0 to capture the consolation championship of the Class A state team tournament. Even in victory, Chapek and Rankin had to fight back the tears.
“It was hard not to think about the end,” Chapek said. “We were crying this morning and then a little bit before the match, but we got it under control.”
Rankin had similar sentiments: “These last few years playing tennis have gone by so fast. We had to pick ourselves back up after we lost to (Rochester) Lourdes (in the first round Tuesday), but we came back. I was glad our team ended with a win.”
Rankin has played three doubles for the Saints the past two seasons. This year she spent most of her time playing with two different partners – junior Hannah Christensen and Chapek.
“At first it was an adjustment for me having different partners but I got used to it,” she said. “You remember how each of them plays, and you use that during matches.”
Chapek made the varsity squad for the first time this year and said all the years of practices made it worthwhile.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” she said. “I really wanted to end my career playing with Morgan.”
For St. James it was another strong finish for a storied program. With head coach Les Zellmann at the helm, the Saints have earned one runner-up finish, two thirds, two fourths and two consolation titles.
“We had a good group of girls this year,” Zellmann said. “They all put in the time and worked hard. I’m proud of them.”
The Saints will graduate seven seniors off this year’s team. The seniors are Michaela Nordby, Megan Lahti, Michaela Nelson, Rankin, Chapek, Jovanna Boeve and Aryn Eckstrom.
St. James ends the dual-meet season with a 24-3 record. The Class A singles and doubles tournament begins today.
Class A State Tournament
St. James 7, Osakis 0
SINGLES: 1—Aryn Eckstrom (SJ) def. Taylor Kraemer 6-1, 6-0; 2—Lorena Hernandez (SJ) def. Lauren Silbernick 6-0, 6-2; 3—Julia Boeve (SJ) def. Hannah Baker 6-3, 6-4; 4—Aubrey Eckstrom (SJ) def. Alexa Hoffarth 6-0, 6-1.
DOUBLES: 1—Michaela Nordby & Acacia Foss (SJ) def. Angela Bowman & Kathryn Anderson 6-1, 7-5; 2—Meghan Lahti & Michaela Nelson (SJ) def. Katelyn Foster & Elyse Wiener 4-6, 6-1, 10-5; 3—Cassidy Chapek & Morgan Rankin (SJ) def. Ashley Kraemer & Hannah Szech 6-4, 4-6, 10-7.