Female Area Athlete of the Week: Rutten holds down top singles spot for Cardinals

Staples-Motley junior earns area athlete of the week

Lauren Rutten
Lauren Rutten
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Lauren Rutten has held down the No. 1 singles position for Staples-Motley since she was in seventh grade.

Now a junior, Rutten continues to impress and this season holds a 20-1 record which puts her at 95 career wins.

“I have a better mental mindset this year,” Rutten said. “Just telling myself it’s OK if I miss shots and just keeping myself up the whole game.”

Last week, Rutten dominated her opponents with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Brenna Hines of Aitkin and a 6-0, 6-4 win over Pequot Lakes’ Quinn Troitter.

“When she is in control and playing her pace and style that is when she plays at her best,” Staples-Motley head coach Justin Edin said.


Her success has gotten noticed as the Minnesota Tennis Coaches Association ranks her as the No. 6 singles player in Class 1A.

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“It’s a lot of pressure,” Rutten said. “It’s to the point where all the big competition has graduated and now I’m expected to beat all the people that I’m playing, but I think that I just look at it as I’m going to win some and I’m going to lose some. You just have to keep playing and keep the love for the game going.”

Edin tries to take the pressure off his No. 1 singles player.

“We try to stay in the present,” Edin said. “We really stay in the moment. One game at a time. One point at a time. We will cross those bridges when we get them.”

The moment Rutten said where she knew she belonged as one of the state’s top players was the Litchfield tournament.

“I was staying with a lot of good competition and it made me think ‘yeah I can stay with these players,’” she said.

Edin said Rutten’s maturity is what stands out to him.

“She’s taken on more of a leadership role,” he said. “Not only holding herself accountable, but also being that example for the team has helped her take it to the next level.”


Rutten is a captain for the Cardinals and she said she tries to lead by example.

“I think our team has really gotten stronger this year because we are all on the same page,” she said. “We are really just rooting for each other through it all.”

Edin added: “Her biggest leadership quality is just showing up and being ready to practice and being present. She leads through her work ethic.”

The biggest asset Rutten said she’s gained from her seventh-grade year is experience.

“I’m more athletic and just learned how to play a lot more,” Rutten said. “Just got smarter at the game. Tennis is a big family sport and when I was asked to play in fifth grade I said ‘yeah, sure’ and it’s always been my top sport.”

Edin is the second-year head coach for the Cardinals and said he’s noticed Rutten is always giving full effort.

“She’s always going 100%,” he said. “Even when we are doing simple games in practice, she’s in it to win it. Just that drive and work outside of practice doing her own work. She does work beyond the average and what is expected.”

Getting to 100 career wins is going to be a special moment for Rutten.


“That wasn’t a part of the plan, but it’s definitely a huge accomplishment in my opinion,” Rutten said. “Considering every other sport has different milestones and I feel like getting to 100 wins in tennis is very cool.”

Edin said having a player like Rutten penciled in at No. 1 singles makes his life a lot easier.“I’m grateful to be in this situation,” he said. “Coaching can only go so far, it’s the players that are coachable and can execute at that high level. I’m glad to be a part of the ride.”

Rutten’s goal is to make the state tournament.

“And I want to do well at state,” she said. “As a team, we are also hoping to achieve that.”

Other notable performances:
Volleyball: Maci Martini, Pequot Lakes, tallied 87 kills and 50 digs last week.
Abi Martin, Pequot Lakes, tallied 159 set assists last week.
Ella Kratchovil, Pequot Lakes, tallied 49 kills and 62 digs last week.
Kelsi Martini, Pequot Lakes, tallied 74 digs last week.
Kaylee Mudgett, Pillager, tallied 61 digs last week.
Ashley Kimman, Pierz, tallied 45 kills, 24 digs and 17 set assists last week.
Kendra Cekalla, Pierz, tallied 66 set assists last week.
Maddie Hamilton, Aitkin, tallied 33 set assists last week.
Jessica Much, Aitkin, tallied 47 digs last week.
Addyson Gravelle, Wadena-Deer Creek, recorded her 1,000 set assists last week.
Cross-Country: Kyanna Burton, Staples-Motley, ran in 19:29.0 for a top 25 finish in the U of M gold division race.

Lauren Rutten

Year: Junior
School: Staples-Motley
Sport: Tennis
Position: No. 1 singles
Highlights: Ranked No. 6 in Class 1A. Last week, she won 6-1, 6-1 against Aitkin and 6-0, 6-4 against Pequot Lakes.

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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