Lori Ahuja became the first Lakeville North player to compete in the state girls tennis tournament since the Lakeville high school split when she played a first-round Class AA singles match Thursday morning at the University of Minnesota.
Ahuja, a junior co-captain, took on third-seeded Isabella Lambert of Minnetonka. That match took place after this edition went to press.
Lakeville South has had players qualify for the state tournament, as did Lakeville High School before South opened in 2005, but Ahuja is the first North player to advance to state in the two-high-school era, Lakeville North coach Trish Staehling said.
Ahuja was 12-7 going into the state tournament, with most of the losses coming against ranked players, Staehling said. She was 6-2 against South Suburban Conference opponents, with the losses to Eastview’s Jordan Kopfer and Apple Valley’s Malini Wijesinghe, both of whom also advanced to state. Ahuja was runner-up to Owatonna’s Brianna Hartmann in the Section 1AA tournament.
Staehling described Ahuja as a “smart, heavy-hitting baseliner type of player.” Ahuja also adjusted her school schedule to be able to practice more during the day. She takes classes during the early bird, first and second hours, then does the rest of her school work online.
The state Class AA singles and doubles tournaments run through Friday at the U of M Baseline Tennis Center, with final-round matches scheduled for 11:30 a.m.