ALHS netters end season with eye on future

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 15, 2002

A surprisingly successful and memorable season has ended for Albert Lea High School girls’ tennis, but coach Sean Gillam and the Tigers won’t spend much time looking back.

The prospects for the future are too bright.

The Tigers, who advanced to the final four of the Section 2AA team tournament, were eliminated in the individual section tourney at Mankato East Saturday, but not without a respectable showing. Though nobody advanced to Monday’s final, three of the Tigers’ four entrants reached the second round. And all six Tigers who played are juniors.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;We’re definitely looking forward to next year,&uot; said Gillam. &uot;We see ourselves as a team that can go there and compete with teams like (Section 2AA champion) Waseca. What happened (at the individual section tournament) gives us some motivation to go out there and beat them.&uot;

What happened was the Bluejays beat the Tigers in three matches, one of which involved a controversial line call in a third set.

Becky Birkhofer, the Tigers’ No. 1 singles player, was seeded sixth

and opened with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over the No. 11 seed from Worthington. She then lost 6-3, 6-0 to a Waseca sophomore.

&uot;Becky played real well,&uot; said Gillam. &uot;She led 3-2 in the first set and, if she could have gotten that, I think she could have won the match.&uot;

Karen Leonard, seeded ninth at No. 2 singles, defeated the No. 8 seed from Mankato West 6-1, 6-3 before falling to the top seed from Waseca 6-0, 6-1.

&uot;Karen played consistent, as always,&uot; said Gillam.

Second-seeded Ashley Helgerson and Nicole Rafdal had a first-round bye at No. 1 doubles before running into a Waseca duo and dropping a tough 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 decision.

&uot;A lot of points in that third set were back and forth, there were a lot of deuce games, and I think our girls could have easily pulled that out,&uot; said Gillam. &uot;I can’t wait to see what these girls can do next year.&uot;

Amanda Rose and Kristin Wulff, the 12th seed at No. 2 doubles, lost to the No. 5 seed from Mankato East 6-0, 6-2 in the opening round.

&uot;East paired a No. 1 doubles player with their No. 1 singles player, a left-hander, and she gave us some problems,&uot; said Gillam. &uot;Amanda and Kristin were real good about team support, as always, and they’ll be back.&uot;

Whether the team will be back is another issue.

&uot;If the referendum doesn’t pass, we’ll have an awfully good group of girls who won’t be able to play,&uot; said Gillam.