Hopkins High girls tennis coach Kenny Novak Jr. is optimistic for the 2018 season, but at the same time, he is a realist.
As long as Edina is in Section 6AA along with Hopkins, it will be difficult for the Royals to qualify for the State Tournament as a team. Edina goes into the 2018 season with the No. 1 state ranking after winning its 20th state title in the last 21 years last fall.
Hopkins was ranked third in the final state Class AA poll last season, but had little chance of beating the Hornets at playoff time. Edina is loaded again, rallying behind junior Nicole Copeland, the 2017 state singles champion.
“We have a good team, with our All-Lake Conference players, Maddie Suk and Rachel Kelly, returning at first and second singles,” Novak said last week. “Maddie is a great team leader who loves playing tennis. She plays an all-court game, handles pressure and is a very smart player. I think she has improved a lot since last year. She is probably the best girl I have coached. You’d have to be darn good to beat her.
“Rachel is a very good No. 2 player. She plays a very aggressive style and likes to come to the net. Her serve is very good.”
In addition to Suk and Kelly, the Royals rely heavily on the Wolpert sisters. Twins Carly and Amaya are other seniors and captains with Suk and Kelly. Sydney Wolpert, a ninth-grader, is a candidate for one of the singles positions.
“I thank my blessings for the Wolpert sisters,” said Novak. “They are good players.”
Mary Murphy and Annika Crouser also return from last year’s lineup, while young players Kate Diedrich and Lisey Langhus appear ready to contribute.
The first big test of the new season for Hopkins will be the Edina Invitational on Sept. 15.
“Not too many people knew about us this time last year,” said Novak. “But now they all know that we’re pretty good.”
Looking at the Lake Conference, Edina is clearly the favorite, and it looks like Hopkins and Minnetonka will battle for second place. Wayzata, the Section 5AA team champion last season, had heavy graduation losses. Eden Prairie is always competitive.
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