State champions! Mayo’s Claire Loftus flawless in winning singles title, Ryder and Diehn win doubles crown

— Rochester celebrates the crowning of a new tennis champion. In a stunning display of talent, Mayo junior Claire Loftus secures the Class 2A state girls tennis singles title on Friday afternoon at the University of Minnesota’s Baseline Tennis Center. Overcoming the odds, Loftus defeated No. 1-ranked Cassandra Li of Eagan 7-5, 6-0 with exceptional skill and precision.

The success does not end there for Mayo. The duo of freshman Malea Diehn and junior Keely Ryder also bring home the state doubles championship. Rallying from an initial setback, they triumphed over Lakeville North’s Keira Kelly and Addy Bowlby with a score of 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the title match.

Loftus’s victory marks a historic moment for Mayo as she becomes only the second Mayo girl to ever win a singles state title. Reflecting on her achievement, Loftus expresses her emotion and gratitude for the opportunity to represent her school. She acknowledges the countless days of practice and hard work that have led her to this incredible moment.

This individual championship is the perfect conclusion to an outstanding season for Mayo girls tennis. Earlier in the week, the team secured their first Class 2A state title by defeating Edina 6-1 and maintaining an unbeaten season record of 26-0. The combination of winning the team title, followed by the singles and doubles titles, marks an unforgettable triple crown victory for Mayo.

As Loftus battled for her state title, the doubles championship match unfolded beside it. Inspired by Loftus’s triumph, Diehn and Ryder found renewed determination and fought their way back from a first-set loss to secure victory in the next two sets, claiming the state championship. The support they received from their teammates further intensified the excitement of the moment.

Loftus’s strategic approach in the championship match involved adapting her game and employing various techniques. By adjusting her shots, she countered Li’s power game and forced her into difficult positions. Loftus displayed her complete arsenal of tennis skills, including changing speeds, angles, and spins, and executing stunning drop shots. Her confidence soared, and she ended points decisively with her powerful shots.

Gradually, Loftus’s dominance wore Li down, leaving her flummoxed by Loftus’s game. The Mayo junior secured one victory after another, eventually winning the match 6-0 in the second set. Despite her clear advantage, Loftus remained focused and understood that nothing was guaranteed until she officially became the champion.

With this victory, Loftus joins an elite group of champions. She is only the second Mayo player to win a Class 2A state girls singles championship, following in the footsteps of Caitlin Loprinzi in 2003. She also becomes the fourth player from Rochester to achieve this feat, alongside Loprinzi, Jessie Aney (Century, 2011), and Kelsey Frechette (Century, 2010).

In the doubles category, Diehn and Ryder entered the state tournament as the top seed. Although they had previously defeated Lakeville North’s Kelly and Bowlby in the Section 1-2A doubles championship, the state tournament showcased a more formidable opponent. Nevertheless, Diehn and Ryder’s teamwork and skill guided them to a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory and a well-deserved state title. The match concluded with a powerful ace from Diehn, sealing their triumph.

The achievements of Rochester extend beyond the singles and doubles categories. Mayo freshman Aoife Loftus, sister of Claire Loftus, secured a remarkable fourth place in the Class 2A singles division. Lourdes seniors Caroline Daly and Elyse Palen achieved third place in the doubles category of the Class 1A state tournament, while Emma Hageman from Winona Cotter finished third in the Class 1A singles division.

The crowning of new champions and the overall success of Mayo girls tennis serve as a testament to the dedication and skill of the players and the unwavering support of the Mayo tennis family.


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