Jordan Kopfer of Eastview returned a serve during her match at Lakeville South (Jerry Holt, Star Tribune photo)
A quick glance at the Eastview girls’ tennis roster indicates a youth movement is underway. It seems to be an ongoing trend in the South Suburban Conference.
“The last couple of years, we’ve been a very, very young team,” Lightning coach Jeff Olsen said. “We are still very young again this year, and have a lot of younger girls on our roster.”
Eastview’s youth movement is slightly different from that of most teams. It largely can be attributed to one family.
The Lightning’s top two singles players are the Kopfer sisters. Sophomore Jordan holds down the No. 1 spot while eighth-grader Taylor is penciled in at the No. 2 position.
The family ties on the team also include their cousin, freshman Mackenzie Novak, who makes up half of the No. 1 doubles team.
“All of them are every coach’s dream kid,” Olsen said. “They are all respectful, great teammates, and aren’t afraid to work hard. They have outstanding work ethic.”
Jordan is in her third season at the top singles position. She is an aggressive player who likes to get to the net to finish off points.
“I’m trying to provide leadership, and help my teammates in a positive way,” Jordan said. “I want to help our team succeed.”
Taylor is in her second season at the No. 2 singles position. She has an excellent backhand, and likes to play the entire court.
“Taylor is always looking to better her game,” Olsen said.
This year the duo has been joined in the starting lineup by Novak, who moved to Apple Valley from New Orleans. She teams up with junior Melissa Barry at the top doubles spot.
“It’s a dream come true having Mackenzie on our team,” Taylor said. “We always talked about playing at the same school, and now she only lives five minutes away. It’s been a great experience.”
Their mothers, Angela Kopfer and Tonya Novak [Breitag], were both singles and doubles high school state champions in South Dakota. They both went on to play tennis in college, Kopfer for Augustana (S.D.) and Novak for the Gophers.
“Our mom has brought a lot of her aspects to our game,” Taylor said. “She is a great role model for us.”
The younger siblings aren’t the only ones trying to follow the success of a predecessor. The program would like nothing more than to emulate fourth-ranked Prior Lake. The Lakers finished third in the Class 2A state tournament a year ago.
“We are an up-and-coming team just like Prior Lake was,” Olsen said. “There are a lot of similarities between the two programs.”
The Lakers just defeated Eastview 6-1 for the second time this season. The individual match scores were closer the second time around.
“It’s become a very competitive rivalry,” Olsen said. “We respect them, and I think they respect us. I don’t feel that were that far off from being right there with Prior Lake.”