The Hastings Raiders girls’ tennis team ended their regular season on Thursday, Sept. 26, with a 7-0 sweep at home over the Hill-Murray Pioneers. While the Raiders did not win a Metro East Conference championship with losses to Simley and Mahtomedi, they absolutely rolled through the rest of the conference.

“Aside from those two matches (Simley and Mahtomedi), we have swept everybody in the conference. We’re pretty proud of that,” said head coach Marissa Welch.

Hastings lost to the Zephyrs on Sept. 19 6-1. Their lone win came at No. 4 singles where eighth grader Claire Keller won 7-5, 6-3. Against Simley on Tuesday, Sept. 24, the Raiders lost 5-2. Junior Anri Sakakibara took No. 1 singles 6-1, 6-2 and fellow juniors Erica Henrichs and Skylar Tjomsland won at No. 1 doubles 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.

The match against the Pioneers was also Senior Day with the players and coaches sporting shirts expressing support for Hastings’ seniors, including long-time varsity player Amy Roach. Roach played No. 2 singles and won 6-2, 6-3. After the match, Welch raved about having Roach on the team.

“It’s awesome, she’s incredible. And actually she had a teacher here today, Mr. Sill, and he’s like she is a joy to have in class,” she said. “I think everyone would say that about her. She’s a joy to have on the court, I love connecting with her, just in sports, in faith, in life, just a top notch girl. Couldn’t be more proud of her. She’s such a leader for the young girls, for her age, for whoever.”

Hastings celebrated Senior Day on Thursday, Sept. 26, during their 7-0 sweep of the Hill-Murray Pioneers. They wore t-shirts honoring the team's seniors, including Amy Roach who has played on varsity for years and won at No. 2 singles. Photo courtesy of Denny Beck
Hastings celebrated Senior Day on Thursday, Sept. 26, during their 7-0 sweep of the Hill-Murray Pioneers. They wore t-shirts honoring the team's seniors, including Amy Roach who has played on varsity for years and won at No. 2 singles. Photo courtesy of Denny Beck

Sakakibara won No. 1 singles 6-2, 6-0; Keller was victorious at No. 3 singles 6-3, 6-1 and sophomore Molly Moran won No. 4 singles 6-3, 6-1. Henrichs/Tjomsland took No. 1 singles 6-1, 6-2; junior Mya Green and sophomore Charlotte Kranz won No. 2 doubles 6-0, 6-1 and sophomore Jamie Friberg and junior Audrey Langworthy won at No. 3 doubles 6-4, 6-3.

Section play starts on Tuesday, Oct. 1, for Hastings. At the beginning of the season, Welch said this season she would be able to experiment with numerous different lineups. Even now heading into sections, she said she has not yet settled on any one lineup.

“No, not at all, even today I literally just put in a new combination. It’s fine though, the girls are so flexible and so wonderful, I appreciate that flexibility and just adjusting to each match and not maybe knowing who they’re going to play or play with. It’s been awesome.”

She added that the team’s lineup on Tuesday will depend on the opponent. In terms of where the team is heading into the postseason, Welch said that doubles have made leaps and bounds since the beginning of the fall and singles continue to improve.

“We are definitely growing in our playing,” she said. “Doubles are getting to the right spots, they’re hitting mainly the right shots. If we get to those right spots, that’s not teachable, especially at this point in the season, so the fact that they are in those spots is huge. Singles just build their confidence every match the get, so that’s big. But I would say our team unity just keeps getting stronger and more fun for the girls.”

The Raiders received the No. 6 seed and will host Albert Lea on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at 4 p.m. weather permitting.