The state championship match is a familiar place for Catholic Memorial’s girls tennis team, but it is nothing they take for granted.
Appearing in the finals for the fourth consecutive year, the Crusaders won their second title in three years (their first was in 2019) with a 6-1 victory over Regis on Saturday, Oct. 23.
“We actually never talked about end results,” said CMH coach Chris Benyousky. “Our conversations and focus throughout the season were about improving each day and each match. We talked about playing with the right mindset, keeping our level up throughout the duration of each match, and representing themselves and CMH with class.”
Three members of the 2019 championship team helped guide the Crusaders to their second title – seniors Jeslyn Singson, Courtney Sturm and Reagan Rebholz.
“All three girls were instrumental in our run to state this season,” Benyousky said. “They brought invaluable experience and led their team well, both on and off the court. They’re going to be missed.”
Singson and Sturm teamed up to defeat Regis’ Evie Shepich and Teigan Petersilka in the first doubles match, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5.
Rebholz teamed with Mary McCaffery in second doubles to defeat Regis’ Abby Erickson and Caroline Shepich, 6-1, 6-2.
The Crusaders also got a doubles win from Kallynn Sauer and Maggie Schmitzer, while Jessica Jacobson, Shannon Kutcher and Rachel Borg all took home singles victories.
Catholic Memorial finished the season 21-3. Their three losses came to Brookfield Academy (4-3 early in the season), Division 1 Arrowhead (5-2) and to one of the top-ranked teams in Minnesota, Rochester Lourdes (4-3). Brookfield Academy was one of the top-ranked Division 2 schools in the state all season and the Crusaders were able to return the favor later in the season with a 5-2 victory in Kohler.
“As I reflect on our season, we’re proud of how we got stronger and stronger as the season progressed,” Benyousky said. “We never had that typical ‘blip’ or bad loss you generally see in a season. Again, we credit our girls for their ability to ‘bring it’ every match. We’d also like to say that a magical season like this doesn’t happen without a good sense of camaraderie. The girls enjoyed being with each other. We’re grateful for this group and are thrilled for the stamp they put on the Catholic Memorial tennis program.”
In the semifinals of the state tournament, the Crusaders defeated Appleton Xavier, 6-1. They got singles wins from Kutcher, Grace Dorow and Borg, and doubles wins from the teams of Singson-Sturm, Rebholz-McCaffery and Sauer-Schmitzer.
“I’m really grateful for the work and collaboration of our assistant coach, Paul Mills, throughout the season,” Benyousky said. “The 6-1 victories in the semifinals and finals felt closer than the scores indicate. We credit our performance to the preparation of our players and to being match tough. Throughout the season, the girls focused daily on improving all facets – their strokes, being mentally tough and coming to each match with a game plan. Being mindful of the little things often made the difference in tight matches. Also, because our schedule was so tough throughout the season, the girls were ready and really well equipped to handle the pressures and close matches at sectionals and the state tournament.”