The Osakis girls tennis program has been the epitome of success for a long time. Multiple state tournament appearances, domination in Section 6A tournaments, and a pipeline of hungry tennis players itching to make an impact. In a year where uncertainty loomed with the COVID-19 virus peering over the shoulder of fall sports, the Silverstreaks managed to be at the top of their game.
Osakis capped off a perfect 13-0 season on Tuesday night with a 6-1 Section 6A championship win over Minnewaska. After the Silverstreaks lost to the Lakers in the section championship a year ago, they find themselves on top once again.
"Our season was a lot different this year due to the COVID-19 restrictions with how we could schedule matches," head coach Ryan Maddock said. "Once we knew how our season would be set up, we set goals of winning our conference and section. To accomplish that, along with finishing undefeated is something the team and the seniors, in particular, can look back on and be very proud of in their careers."
Osakis swept all four singles matches on Tuesday afternoon. Tia Dykema closed out her high school career with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Alissa Thorfinnson in the No. 1 singles match.
"It was super special to finish my career at home in Osakis," Dykema said. "I know the wind was a little tough, but it was fun. We had our home crowd here to support us. There's always an advantage of playing on your home court."
Mara VanNyhuis won the No. 2 singles match over Addy Randt, while Larissa Hoffarth beat Leah Hagen in No. 4 singles. Both girls picked up two-set victories to put Osakis up 3-0.
Kennedy George and Annika Randt had a battle when Osakis and Minnewaska faced off in the regular season. George's comeback victory was the highlight of Osakis' 6-1 a few weeks back. After dropping the first set 1-6, George came back again to secure another point for the Silverstreaks.
"I thought all of our girls showed a lot of resilience today with Kennedy and our No. 3 doubles with Lexi (Spychalla) and Helena (Zajac) really digging in when things were not looking good for them," Maddock said. "We were definitely concerned when those two matches looked like they were headed Minnewaska's way early, but we were proud of how those girls didn't give in and battled back to get big wins."
Spychalla and Zajac also trailed after one set but were able to fight their way back for the match-clinching point over Grace Jensen and Olivia Bleick. Osakis also won the No. 2 doubles match when Ellie George and Brittany Dietrich beat Zoey Elwood and Ally Magard 6-1, 6-3.
Minnewaska's top doubles team won the final match of the afternoon. Maddie Thorfinnson and Olivia Richards beat Sydney Rach and Kadyn Triebenbach 6-4, 4-6, (10-4). Thorfinnson and Richards are part of a solid core returning for the Lakers in 2021.
"I think every year, teams are changing. There's a revolving door of seniors, new lineups, new kids and new opportunities," Minnewaska head coach Tara Reichmann said. "I believe our kids are all motivated when you get losses to work hard to improve. We will continue to do these things in the future as well."
Even in a loss, there are many things for the Lakers to be proud of during the strange season that was the fall of 2020.
"My team had a great deal of success, winning another conference title this year," Reichmann said. "However, we fell short to Osakis in sections. Osakis has a great program with a lot of depth. Beyond match play, our team worked very hard, starting with following the rules to prevent illness and just enjoying being together again. We did our best, and we're happy for the opportunity. We made it to the final day of the season, which is all we could ask for, and we were able to accomplish that task."
While only one senior graduates from this Minnewaska team, six said their goodbyes in Osakis.
"We are very proud of our six seniors, Tia, Sydney, Jayden (Hensley), Brittany, Kadyn and Helena," Maddock said. "They are very kind, hardworking and coachable athletes. They were strong players, good leaders and outstanding students. All six seniors were named to the Academic All-State team for this season. They will definitely be missed."
Dykema isn't going to forget the time she played for an undefeated team in her senior year. Between the COVID-19 restrictions, unusual schedule and uncertainty of a postseason, this year was notable for her.
"It was a special year because we never knew if we were going to get shut down," Dykema said. "With everything up in the air, you didn't know what day was going to be your last. I think our mentality was to work hard every second we got out here. I think it showed when we got out on the court."
OSAKIS 6, MINNEWASKA 1
SINGLES - No. 1 - Tia Dykema (O) def. Alissa Thorfinnson, 6-0 ,6-0; No. 2 - Mara VanNyhuis (O) def. Addy Randt, 6-2, 6-3; No. 3 - Kennedy George (O) def. Annika Randt, 1-6, 7-5, 6-4; No. 4 - Larissa Hoffarth (O) def. Leah Hagen, 6-3, 6-2
DOUBLES - No. 1 - Maddie Thorfinnson/Olivia Richards (Waska) def. Sydney Rach/Kadyn Triebenbach, 6-4, 4-6, (10-4); No. 2 - Ellie George/Brittany Dietrich (O) def. Zoey Elwood/Ally Magard, 6-3, 6-1; No. 3 - Lexi Spychalla/Helana Zajac (O) def. Grace Jenson/Olivia Bleick, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1; Exhibition - Sydney Dahl/Megan Thorfinnson (Waska) def. Jayden Hensley/MaKenzie Lien, 3-6, 6-2, 11-9; Leah Maddock/Bria Hoffarth (O) def. Katy Vold/Alia Randt, 6-0, 6-1