Ponderosa senior grows as tennis player

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Three years ago, Kari Keogh was searching for something to do when not playing basketball.

She opted to play tennis, and the Ponderosa senior has developed into a solid No. 3 singles player.

“I started playing tennis my freshman year,” Keogh said. “I wanted a second sport to go with basketball. Tennis is so fun. I still haven't mastered it, that's for sure. I joined tennis because my friends were doing it and it was a no-cut sport, so I decided I would just give it a shot.”

Keogh, headed for St. Olaf College next year to study and play basketball, made plenty of shots last season for the Ponderosa basketball team. She was the Continental League's leading scorer during the regular season with a 16.6 scoring average, and topped all players with 147 made free throws.

“I think if I took tennis more seriously year-round, I could be a lot better, but basketball is really my passion,” Keogh said. “I'm really in shape, which I find a lot of time in tennis, girls aren't. And my footwork, it all comes from basketball. Basketball and tennis cross-train a lot.”

Keogh was undefeated last season in tennis, but suffered her first loss in the second round of the state tournament. She hasn't lost in four matches this season and defeated Littleton's Anna Sonja 6-0, 6-0 April 4 in a Continental League dual meet at Littleton.

“If Kari would have started at a younger age in tennis, she could have easily gotten a tennis scholarship,” Ponderosa coach Lisa Damico said. “She is so confident now. She went undefeated last year but she was uncertain in a lot of matches. This year she's very calm and very certain. She's not cocky, but just certain.

“It will take someone with really good tournament experience to beat Kari. She has never had a private lesson. She's just all natural. Someone who grew up playing at age 8, was formally taught and plays tournaments year around will have a shot at her.”

Keogh won a long first game that went to deuce four times against Sonja, and then went on to post an easy straight-set victory.

“I think I've gotten a lot better,” Keogh said. “I started playing doubles and I liked it a lot, and now I practice a little more in singles. I'm trying to come to the net more, that's where I like to be. When I played doubles, that was my favorite part. I try to get up there when I can.

“I really want to make it further (in the state tournament) than last year. I want to place this year. That's my goal, to stay undefeated and place at state. It takes me a long time to get in the groove, but I'm on track to meet my goal. I've got really good No. 1 (Lauren Lindell) and No. 2 singles (Brittany Glantz) players to hit with, so that helps me a lot.”

Keogh and Lindell won their matches against Littleton to help the Mustangs remain unbeaten in four dual meets this season with a 4-3 win over the Lions.

Ponderosa's No. 1 doubles team of freshmen Allison Smith and Lindsey Schroeder and the Mustangs No. 2 doubles pair of seniors Carly Lauer and Codi Morton won their matches to provide the winning margin over Littleton.