Oct. 25—MINNEAPOLIS — Finally, it is theirs.
After spending 26 of the last 27 years in the state tournament, Rochester Mayo finally left the event with its biggest prize — the championship trophy.
For the first time in Mayo program history and the first time by a non-Twin Cities metro team, the Spartans are the girls tennis state champions. Mayo — ranked No. 1 all season — nailed the title down late Wednesday afternoon at the University of Minnesota’s Baseline Tennis Center, beating No. 2-ranked Edina 6-1.
Jeff Demaray, who’s been coaching Mayo girls tennis for the last 32 years, said this state title wasn’t just about this team, but the legacy of Mayo tennis period.
“I’m just so proud of this team and what they’ve accomplished this year,” said Demaray, whose Spartans finally made good after six previous trips to the state championship round, five of those losses to Edina. “But I think it’s critical that I recognize that there was a foundation laid for them from all the other players, parents and coaches who came before them. It’s because that foundation was laid that this happened today. And so this goes out to the entire Mayo tennis family, that this team did what all of those other Mayo teams had come so close to doing.”
When it comes to this final win of the Mayo season, one that capped a perfect 26-0 year for the Spartans, don’t for a second think beating Edina came easily. That 6-1 score is incredibly deceiving.
The title was in the balance with three matches still left on the courts, at No. 3 and 4 singles and No. 1 doubles. All three stretched to three sets, Mayo’s angst heavy as grabbing that fourth and deciding point and with it that state title had turned painstaking.
In the end, they got them all.
No. 4 singles player Ana Medina clinched the championship by clobbering her opponent in the third set 6-0. A sophomore and one of a pack of underclassmen on this team, Medina believes the Spartans are just getting going.
“I am so excited,” she said. “We are so young and we have so much left to do (the next few years).”
At No. 3 singles, freshman Malea Diehn also pushed her way to a win with a 6-0 decision in the third set, before the No. 1 doubles team of Nandini Iyer and Keely Ryder was also a three-set winner.
Mayo got an expectedly easy win at No. 1 singles from its biggest star, junior and No. 2-ranked Claire Loftus. No. 2 singles came relatively easy, too, with Aoife Loftus winning in straight sets. And Mayo’s No. 3 doubles team of Charlotte Colby and Audrey Aney also cruised, winning 6-0, 6-3.
But everything else was a grind, which for Mayo, made the satisfaction of this championship all the greater. Nothing was handed to the Spartans.
“I think Edina was just playing phenomenally,” Mayo senior and sixth-year varsity player Aney said. “And I think we (as a team) started off a little bit tense. But that’s OK, because we knew we had a target on our backs. Edina had nothing to lose. But I thought our team was phenomenal. And I’m just really happy for all of our girls. And I’m so happy that I have friends for life now; I love all of them.”
Those targets on Mayo’s backs figure to be there for at least another year and likely more. Mayo has three players on this team who are all ranked in the top 10 in Class 2A, Claire Loftus, Aoife Loftus (fifth) and Diehn (ninth). Both Aoife and Diehn are freshmen.
And there is a whole bunch more talent coming back besides them.
That former stretch of just misses in the state tournament may soon become a distant memory.
But for right now, they are going to simply bask in this first championship.
Iyer, a senior like Aney who has also played six years of Mayo varsity tennis, was especially going to do that. Like Aney, her time has now come and gone.
“This is pretty great,” Iyer said. “And I like winning my last match. This is special and just sharing this with my team is great. It’s been great, all of these six years.”
Mayo 6, Edina 1
Singles: Claire Loftus (M) def. Rashi Singh 6-1, 6-0; Aoife Loftus (M) def. Rashi Singh 6-1, 6-3; Malea Diehn (M) def. Raya Hou 7-5, 2-6, 6-0; Ana Medina (M) def. Emmy Inderieden 6-1, 5-7, 6-0. Doubles: Nandini Iyer/Keely Ryder (M) def. Zoya Hasan/Lauryn Schenck 4-6, 6-3, 6-3; Elena Loucks/Abby Watz (E) def. Diane Meunier/Bergen Jacob 6-3, 6-3; Audrey Aney/Charlotte Colby (M) def. Olivia Wegmann-Knider/Lily Santoni 6-0, 6-3.
Mayo 6, Maple Grove 1
Singles: Claire Loftus (M) def. Maddie Larsen (MG) 6-0, 6-2; Aoife Loftus (M) def. Summer Ode 6-0, 6-0; Malea Diehn (M) def. Megan Parker 6-0, 6-0; Ana Medina (M) def. Rylee Toms 6-0, 6-0. Doubles: Nandini Iyer/Keely Ryder (M) def. Char Bakke/Amelia Larsen 6-1, 6-3; Peyton Weigelt/Lexi Helmer-Jahnke (MG) def. Diane Meunier/Bergen Jacob 6-2, 4-6, 10-4; Charlotte Colby/Audrey Aney (M) def. Livia Walseth/Addison Doherty 6-1, 6-2.