The girls of the Forest Lake tennis team marked the official opening of the 2019 fall varsity sports season with a pair of trips to invitationals last weekend.

The Rangers made their first serves at Stillwater on Aug. 16, a tournament highlighted by the third-place finish of senior Ellen Nelson and sophomore Hannah Melander in the No. 1 doubles competition.

The court season continued Aug. 17 with another short trip, this one to Centennial for a quad tournament that also featured Maple Grove and Hill-Murray. As a team, the Rangers finished third, losing to the hosts and Maple Grove 8-0 while beating Hill-Murray 5-3. (The tournament allowed teams to enter a team in a No. 4 doubles position not used in normal dual play).

“We had some great individual matches,” head coach Jenny Johnson said. “A lot of our girls playing varsity were JV players last year.”

Johnson has taken over the head coaching job from Violet Shortly after serving as an assistant coach last fall.

Individual matches were played as a single set to eight games. A pair of sisters won in the top singles spots against the Pioneers: senior Jenna Zowin at No. 1 (8-6 over Sami Young) and freshman Ellie Zowin at No. 2 (8-4 over Olivia Katz). The Rangers also claimed victories in the three “standard” doubles spots. Nelson and Melander were 8-5 winners at No. 1 against Maddy Katz and Brooke Tjernland. At No. 2, senior Brooke Remington and junior Amanda Hanowski won 8-6 over Maibel Petschke and Anna Vlaisavljevich, and the all-senior No. 3 pair of Lily Walesheck and Kelsey Severied won a 7-1 tiebreaker over Lorelai Van Guilder and Sydney Wright after the teams ended normal play at a 7-7 draw.

Also representing the Rangers in singles were senior Jaci Rugland at No. 3 and sophomore Ashlyn Vetsch at No. 4. Junior Maddie Roberts played three matches at No. 4 singles, two with sophomore Abby Leagjeld and one with sophomore Sierra Walesheck.

Senior captain Sydney Rydel, a surefire ladder player if healthy, suffered a broken leg in preseason, forcing Johnson to redraw her lineup.

“That really hurts because it pushes everybody else up,” Johnson said.

The Rangers were scheduled to play their first home matches Tuesday at the press deadline against Section 7AA foes Duluth East and Chisago Lakes. The Rangers head to Delano Thursday at 9 a.m. for a tournament that will also be attended by Brainerd, Cambridge-Isanti, Orono, Osakis, Princeton and Roseville.

On Monday, Aug. 26, they will face a 1 p.m. start at North Branch for a tri that will also involve Blaine.

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