For the Forest Lake girls tennis team, one of its toughest foes this season has been the weather.
Rain has delayed matches against Chisago Lakes, Princeton and Cambridge-Isanti in the past week, but coach Violet Shortly believes her resilient side was not bothered by the precipitation.
“It hit us hardest at the tournament at St. Francis, but we already had six matches in,” she said. “We hit pretty early in the season. [Losing those matches] may hurt us a little with section seedings, but it also gave us a chance to regroup a little bit.”
Forest Lake was 6-6 in the non-conference season entering its league opener, a 7-0 home loss to Roseville on Thursday, Sept. 2. The Rangers lost all seven matches in straight sets to the Raiders, considered one of better Class 2A teams in the state.
“Roseville is one of the two top teams in our conference, so we knew this would be a tough battle,” Shortly said. “But it’s good for the team to see a team of this level.”
The Rangers have not shied away from tough competition, losing to state-ranked sides from Pequot Lakes and Elk River earlier in the season.
“My girls competed so well against Elk River,” Shortly said. “After the first set, there was improvement, there was fight, and that’s all I can ask for. I was really excited about that.”
While the team is roughly halfway through the season, Shortly said she is still tinkering with her lineup, especially in doubles.
“I think we have 12 good players, so the tough part is figuring out how to put the pieces of the lineup together,” she said. “It’s a process. Having Malia [McKinnon] at first singles, Hannah [Melander] at second and Ashlyn [Vetsch] at third is set.
“But starting at fourth singles, we’ve tried a few different things. We tried Rachel Boston, a freshman who has shown great promise, as well as Ellie [Zowin] and Emily [Ryan], two good singles players who also are good doubles players.
“It’s about giving some young players experience, showing them that they belong at this level.”
The Rangers will be on the road for three of their next four matches, starting with a contest at East Ridge on Tuesday, Sept. 7, that was not completed at press time. Forest Lake hosts Stillwater on Thursday, Sept. 9, starting at 3:30 p.m., then will travel to Blaine for a tournament on Saturday, Sept. 11.
The Rangers also will play at Irondale on Tuesday, Sept. 14.