In a near perfect year for the SJA girls tennis team something eventually had to go wrong. That happened at the awards banquet on Sunday night - the pizza didn’t show up on time.
The pizza arrived in a couple of waves, so the large gathering of players and supporters were first limited to one slice, but the bottleneck was eventually solved.
The pizza deficit did not stop the awards program from recognizing the accomplishments of this Saints team and the players on the team.
Head Coach Les Zellmann recapped a season which had many notable accomplishments.
The Saints finished fifth in the State tournament. The team tied the record for the most team wins, as the 2012 SJA girls equalled the 24 season wins of the 2003 and 2011 teams.
Aryn Eckstrom was given the Most Valuable Player Award. Aryn’s season and career marks put her at the very top of Saints girls tennis players.
In individual play at the State, Aryn finished fifth. Aryn tied Paige Olson for the all time record for singles season wins at 30. She is also in fifth (2010) and sixth place (2011) in that category.
Counting doubles play, Aryn had 33 wins in 2012.
She is third all time in career wins for a Saints player with 122 wins. On this all time list, she’s behind big sister Ashley with 136 and Olson with 133. She’s in third place for career wins as a singles player, behind big sis and Paige.
Other Saints with more that seventy wins are Megan Lahti with 77, Michaela Nordby with 76, Lorena Hernandez with 76 and Michaela Nelson with 72. As a junior, Lorena has an excellent chance of cracking the 100 win plateau next year.
The Chris Evert ‘Heart’ Award went to Julia Boeve and Lorena. As the number two singles player, Lorena claimed the all time 11th place position in the season wins for a singles player with 25.
Julia was close behind Lorena with 23 wins. Tied at 23 wins this year was Aryn’s freshman sister Aubrey. Lorena, Julia and Aubrey give the Saints a solid and seasoned core of singles players returning next year.
The number two doubles team of Megan Lahti and Michaela Nelson now can proudly claim the Saints number one all time season win record for a doubles team with 31 wins this year. That beats by one the win total of the 2009 team of Darci Johnson and Julia Runge.
Page 2 of 2 - The number one doubles team of Michaela Nordby and Acacia Foss finished the year with 26 wins.
As far as career doubles wins, Lahti with 76 and Nelson with 71, finish in sixth and seventh place respectively.
Nordby ends her career in 11th place with 58 career doubles wins.
The South Central Conference All Conference Team was revealed during the awards ceremony. SCC All Conference designations are awarded on a point scale. Aryn was the top point winner in the conference with 40. Other Saints who achieved All Conference honors were Lorena, Michaela Nordby, Acacia Foss and Julia Boeve.
Saints ninth grader Alejandra Trapero won the Most Improved Player award. Just out for tennis this fall, Mackenie Blickem won the Coaches Award for being the Most Improved Player. Anna Haler won the Arthur Ash Sportsmanship award.
Senior athletes who were winners of the All State Academic Certificates of Recognition (cumulative GPA of 3.7 or higher) were Megan Lahti, Michaela Nelson, Cassidy Chapek and Morgan Rankin.
A large part of continuing the tradition of excellence for SJA tennis is the Dedicated and Devoted program.
Players have to earn a certain level of off season play and training to win the Dedicated and Devoted desingation. This year 22 players won the award.
Eight seniors leave theprogram this year. That includes the top singles player and seven seniors who had extensive doubles play this season.
Programs like Dedicated and Devoted go a long way to determine whether next year will be a rebuild or reload year. In the thirteen years since 2000, the Saints have won at least 20 matches 11 times. If the Saints remain Dedicated and Devoted, it’s not out of the question to think next year will be a reload year.