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Despite a rainy spring, the Lions tennis season has completed and coach Mark McQueen is pleased with the results.

COURTESY PHOTO: MICHELLE NETT - A St. Helens girls tennis player serves while wearing a face mask due to COVID-19 restrictions. Masks are no longer required on the court.The girls tennis season has wrapped up at St. Helens High School, and coach Mark McQueen is pleased with how the team performed this year.

The Lady Lions took four singles and five doubles to districts. Out of those, they won five of nine.

"So, five of our girls went into the second round, which is fantastic," McQueen said. "That's batting over .500."

McQueen noted that in singles, Lucie Polvogt and Heather Hayduk made it to the second round. For doubles, all five made it to the second round.

"Jazarel Ortiz and Abi Opdahl went to the third set," he said. "They almost made it and they were 2-6, 6-2, 6-4. They were so close to making that third round, which would have been a good feat for St. Helens tennis."

McQueen explained, "With both doubles and singles, teams get seeded. There are six seeded players that earn a right to have a bye or play a lower team, and Abi and Jazarel, from their season, they were seeded sixth going into districts. So that's something to be proud of."

With 10 meets this season, the Lions went 5-5.

"We beat the teams we should have beaten, and, let's be honest, we lost to the teams that should have beat us," McQueen said.

Ortiz and Opdahl won last year's consolation bracket.

Asked to highlight a couple of players on his team, McQueen brought up Lucie Polvogt.

"She really stepped up and became our number one," he said. "Last year, she was a doubles player. After week one, she thought about quitting because she wasn't hitting the ball over the net. Now she's a legitimate player. We have her for two more years and I really expect big things from her."

The team lost its top player, Drew Erickson, a week before the season. While on the basketball team, Erickson blew out her ACL.

McQueen continued, "I also have some freshmen coming in that played a lot of varsity this year. Victoria Crawford played a lot of varsity as did Haylie Walton. So, we have young players that are coming in. Just talking to them and watching their improvement, you can see that they have positive futures."

Despite strong performances from his team, McQueen admits there were frustrations, Mother Nature being a big factor.

"Just look outside and you'll see how frustrating it was," he said. "I think we only had nine practices the entire season, just due to rain."

McQueen wants to get more fans interested in tennis at the high school level.

"Really, what I want to focus on going forward is really advertising girls tennis and seeing if we can get more people to come out," he said. "We had 21 (players), but I would love 30."

McQueen added, "I think with word of mouth and the success that our girls are having, I see the program moving forward."

McQueen calls his team members quality kids with positive attitudes.

"As a coach, I look at all other coaches at the school and at the district and laugh," he said. "I don't deal with any drama. I don't deal with any issues … they're just quality kids who always bring a positive attitude. I feel guilty that I get paid for this because I go in and we have fun. We just work on getting better."


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