Rochester Mayo junior Claire Loftus lost her first match of the high school tennis season this fall, falling to Eagan’s Cassandra Li.
Loftus won her final match of the high school tennis season this fall, topping Li.
The latter match was for the Class 2A individual state championship. Loftus, the No. 2 seed, scored redemption via a 7-5, 6-0 victory at Baseline Tennis Center.
“Going up against (Li, the No. 1 seed who hadn’t lost this season), it wasn’t like, oh, I was supposed to win,” Loftus said. “And I think that helped me. I was able to play more relaxed and without the pressure and the stress.”
But not without the fatigue. This has been a long, successful week for Loftus, who helped Rochester Mayo win its first-ever team state title on Wednesday.
“It’s been a long week. Lots of matches,” she said. “So I was definitely feeling tired.”
Loftus took her time between points to catch her breath, but also made a point to switch up her game plan and be aggressive in an attempt to play shorter points. She lived at the net. Once Loftus found her groove, she rolled.
“I started to trust my shots more, and I was able to feel confident when I hit my strokes,” Loftus said.
It was the opposite for Li. The Eagan sophomore said her confidence started to wane during the match and she grew impatient. That often leads to unforced mistakes.
But while Friday ended in disappointment, that experience figures to serve Li well moving forward.
“It’s really good memories, I would say,” she said. “It definitely does give me something to look back on and try to know what to improve on next time so I got it.”
Loftus helped Rochester Mayo complete the perfect sweep this week. She won the individual crown, the Spartans claimed the team title, and Rochester Mayo’s Malea Diehn and Keely Ryder outlasted Lakeville North’s Keira Kelly and Addy Bowlby in three sets, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, in the doubles championship match.
Loftus’ victory also completes a sweep of her own. She now owns a team state title, a doubles state title and a singles state title.
What’s left to play for?
“Two more (titles),” she said. “I’ll be back next year, hopefully to do just the same, I guess.”
Breck’s Isabelle Einess won her second straight singles state title, topping Osakis’ Leah Maddock 6-0, 6-0 in the final. Einess didn’t drop a single game throughout her state tournament run.
The doubles crown went to Blake’s Fatemeh Vang and Nana Vang, who bested Minnehaha Academy’s Chloe Alley and Greta Johnson in the final, 6-0, 6-2.
Girls state tennis: Rochester Mayo finally breaks through for 2A title