The Farmington Tigers girls' tennis team has battled so far this season despite losing eight players from last year's varsity squad. Head coach Blake Olmscheid said that the team is exceeding expectations.
"A step back was expected and relative to that, we actually probably outperformed our expectations and we really have over the course of the year," he said. "We have a squad full of girls who basically have never had any time on varsity before, that are all doing pretty well."
The Tigers have taken their lumps during South Suburban Conference play but there have been brights spots in those losses. They lost to Burnsville 6-1 on August 30 with their win coming from the doubles team of senior Abigail Clayton and junior Sophia Stokes who won 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
September 6 they fell to Lakeville North but sophomore Ashley Renwick won in No. 1 singles 6-3, 6-2. The next day they lost to Apple Valley 5-2, but Renwick won again 6-0, 6-6, 10-7 in No. 1 singles along with senior Anna Bakke who took No. 4 singles 1-6, 6-6, 7-4.
Farmington then bounced back with a 5-2 win over Faribault. Renwick took No. 1 singles 6-1, 6-1 and junior Katelyn Rowe won No. 3 singles 6-1, 6-2. Bakke was victorious in No. 4 singles 6-4, 6-1 while junior Sydney Hubbard fell in No. 2 singles 6-1, 6-4. In doubles, Clayton and Stokes won 6-2, 6-0 in No. 3 doubles and seniors Hailey Karnowski and Rose Bauer took No. 2 doubles 6-1, 6-2. Juniors Kailey Felch and Kamryn Finstad lost in No. 1 doubles 6-1, 6-2.
Olmscheid described his team's next match against Eagan on September 11 the best of the season for the Tigers. The match was tied 3-3 heading with just No. 4 singles left and senior Noel Mara went three sets before losing 4-6, 6-1, 1-6 and the Wildcats won 4-3. Olmscheid said that in the past they have regularly lost to Eagan and this was by far the best his team had played.
However, following the match against Eagan, Olmscheid said they ran into several good teams in a row in a string of tough matches. The Tigers finished up a match from earlier in the season against Northfield on September 12 and lost 5-2. They faced Buffalo, Becker and Mound-Westonka in a tournament last weekend and dropped all three matches. They then played a tough match on Tuesday against Prior Lake, who is ranked No. 9 in class AA, and lost.
Olmscheid said that this year's seniors, who had hardly any varsity experience before this season, are really coming out and setting an example for the younger players.
"We have six seniors this year, five of them are playing in the varsity lineup." he said. "Really out of that group, all of them improved I think quite drastically over the off-season. For them to come up and play the way they have been this year without really a huge drop off is an accomplishment in itself. You hope that the other girls on the team see that and their lasting impact will be the girls coming up taking that same path."
Olmscheid also said that the team's strength so far this season has been Farmington's doubles teams and Renwick's play at No. 1 singles. He praised Renwick for raising the overall level of her game since last season when she played No. 3 singles.
"I know she hit a lot over the course of the summer and really she's just gotten so much more solid in every facet of her game," he said. "She still has more or less the same weaknesses but those weaknesses have gotten to be something that definitely can't be picked on the same way they would have been last year. Up until the weekend tournament in Buffalo she had won four out of her last five matches in singles. She has definitely been a bright spot this year for us."
Looking ahead, he also said that he is interested to see how his team responds to their recent matches as their schedule does not get any easier. On top of that, Olmscheid said that this season is valuable experience for the future.
"We do have a couple things to look forward to, especially in the singles lineup too," he said. "Those girls are getting good looks right now at good players, so it will be a little bit of a learning curve for them. We're hoping that this is kind of a good experience for the girls who are in the singles lineup at the moment, who may be a little younger and it may pay off in the future."
Farmington had their Thursday match with Lakeville South rescheduled for September 26 due to the rain. With that rescheduling, the Tigers will play five times in six days to wrap up their regular season. On Monday they go to New Prague and on Tuesday they travel to Shakopee. Wednesday is the makeup at home with Lakeville South, Thursday they go to Eastview and on Saturday they play in a tournament in Jordan. Sections start on October 2.