SLO wins 11th straight Lakes Tournament crown
LEMARS – The Spirit Lake-Okoboji girls tennis team extended its reign another year with an 11th consecutive Lakes Conference Tournament title on Saturday.
But it wasn’t without its challenges. SLO finished with 17 match wins followed closely by Estherville Lincoln Central with 16 and LeMars with 15.
Three SLO players earned first-team all-conference-the doubles team of Alli Gerking and Aubry Kolegraff and Shirley Coenen placed third at the No. 1 singles. Also KJ Veldman finished second at the No. 2 singles to earn honorable-mention all-conference.
“Alli Gerking and Aubry Kolegraff did what they needed to do at No. 1 doubles,” said SLO coach Bob O’Hara. “They’ll have to pick there game up as the season goes on, but I’m confident that they will.
“Shirley, our No. 3 player, served notice that she can compete with other teams No. 1 players,” the coach said. “Shirley’s been improving all year and lost to ELC’s Lexie Hash in a tiebreaker. But third place and making first-team all-conference against the conferences top players is really a great accomplishment for Shirley.
“Our No. 5 player KJ Veldman played No. 2 singles,” said O’Hara.
Veldman defeated LeMars’ Erica Westhoff 6-3. She then played ELC’s Erin Olson and lost in a tiebreaker (4-6).
“But she still finished second and made honorable mention all conference which for a freshman is great,” said O’Hara.
However the Indians’ finish as a team came down to the No. 2 doubles team of Hannah Coenen and Jamie Kohlhaase.
“There’s a lot of pressure at No. 2 doubles as only the winner makes all-conference.,” said O’Hara. “Hannah and Jamie had a great win against LeMars fighting off two match points and winning in a tiebreaker. They then played the last match against ELC’s Emily Swalve and Morgan Kirchner who they had just lost to on Thursday.
“The match had great significance as it was to determine the No. 2 doubles champion as well as the meet champion. Hannah and Jamie really stepped up and played great tennis winning 6-3,” the coach said. “I think the hardest part for them was over coming the pressure. Hopefully it’s a day that they’ll look back on in the future and have some great memories.”