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Warriors Athlete of Week: Collins collects wins from everywhere for Warriors

Brainerd Warrior Lila Collins finished last week 4-0 at No. 2 singles.

Athlete of week Lila Collins
Bainerd Warrior Lila Collins prepares to hit the ball Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022, at the Brainerd High School courts.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD -- Lila Collins is not a singles player.

She’s not a doubles player.

The Brainerd Warriors junior is a tennis player and wherever her team needs her that’s what she’ll be that day.

“She’s coming into this season with a ton of doubles experience,” Warriors head coach Lisa Salo said. “She played No. 1 doubles with Brynne (Folden) last year and they had incredible success the entire season. They were one of the top teams in our section. We knew she would have the doubles skillset, but she’s a phenomenal athlete.

“She’s one of the quickest girls we have on our team. She’s a student of the game and she’s a very good singles player. She really wants to embrace singles. She will play anywhere. She’s the type of athlete who will tell me ‘coach put me anywhere you need me.’ She totally is all about the team, but she has skillsets that she can play singles or doubles.”

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Collins dispatched St. Cloud’s Ella Marohl 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 before defeating Blaine’s Katelyn Wozniak 6-1, 6-1 at the St. Cloud Triangular Thursday, Sept. 1.

“Tennis is all about footwork and even if you’re taller you need to have the little, quick adjustment steps,” Salo said. “And agility. Tennis is all about agility. You’re covering all parts of that court and she can do that. Her footwork is great. She can get to a lot of spots.

“And she never gives up. She had a tight match against St. Cloud against a very good player. It was a three-setter; extremely hot and humid that day. The conditions were tough and Lila after that first match only had 20 minutes to get ready for her next match. I asked her if she was ready and she said, ‘Yep, I’m ready to go.’”

Collins opened the week Monday, Aug. 29, with a 6-1, 6-2 No. 2 singles win over Minnewaska’s Livi Danielson. She then bettered Moorhead’s Kylie Torkelson 6-4, 6-3 to help the Warriors to a pair of 6-1 wins.

I love the game and wherever my team needs me is where I want to be.
Lila Collins

“I am enjoying playing singles and it is a change,” Collins said. “I’ve been playing doubles the past two years and it’s a little different. I’m missing doubles a little bit, but I’m getting used to playing singles again. I went into my high school career playing singles so I’m familiar. It’s a totally different game playing singles instead of doubles. “Ball placement is one of the biggest adjustments. The strategy is totally different and having to be out there by yourself is a little bit of a challenge. It’s working for me so far though.”

She didn’t drop a game in Brainerd’s 6-1 victory over Andover Saturday, Aug. 27. At No. 2 singles, Collins topped Hannah Kumpel 6-0, 6-0.

“I’m working a lot on my serve and the placement of that and trying to set myself up with some of those shots,” Collins said. “I’m trying to work on my footwork and speed and all-around athletic ability.

Collins showed she can still manage doubles play as she teamed with Ella Chaussee to defeat Orono’s MacKenzie Callan-Lilly Helling with a 7-6, 6-2 win leading Brainerd to a 4-3 victory Thursday, Aug. 25.

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“We celebrate our progress and that growth of our game and she’s probably working more on that transition ball when she’s moving into the net,” Salo said. “That and probably decision making. She’s got the different shots, but she does have to work on her drop shot and putting a little bit more touch on the ball. But with her improvement, we’re putting an emphasis on decision-making. Lila has all the strokes, though.”

For the season, Collins owns a 9-3 overall record. She’s 2-1 at No. 1 singles, 5-2 at No. 2 singles, 1-0 at No. 1 doubles and 1-0 at No. 2 doubles.

Paired with Folden last season, Collins finished the year 23-4 to move her career record to 31-5 entering this season.

“Last year helped me a lot,” Collins said. “If I’m in a hard match I just think how I did it last year. It’s a game that I want to win, but still, it’s a game and I love doing it. I remember how many matches I’ve played beforehand and I just tell myself I can pull it out.”

Salo praised Collins’ grittiness and mental strength. She said it’s an attribute that continues to improve the more matches Collins plays. Being a varsity veteran, Collins also feels she’s a leader on the team.

“I felt like that for quite a while,” Collins said. “I feel my positive attitude brings a lot to the team. That and my experience. I do kind of take on that role as a leader with some of the younger players. I think they see me like that, too.

“For sections, I do see myself playing singles, but I’m ready to play wherever I’m going to help the team the most. I love the game and wherever my team needs me is where I want to be. I love playing singles, but I also love playing doubles.”

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.

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Lila Collins

Collins_Lila2022.jpg
Lila Collins

Sport: Girls' tennis

Position: Singles

Year: Junior

Age: 17

Height: 5-foot-4

Career highlight: Being on the team as an eighth-grader and playing with Brynne Folden last year

Other sports: Lacrosse

Favorite class: English

Favorite food: Mom’s curry chicken salad

Favorite movie: “The Spiderwick Chronicles”

Favorite TV show: “New Girl”

Favorite website or app: Pinterest

Favorite restaurant: Buffalo Wild Wings

Future plans: Attend a four-year college

Parents: Jon and Amy Collins

Other notable performances

Emma Sheflo, girls soccer, tallied three goals and assisted another in a 9-0 win over Rocori.

Kalvin Stengrim, boys soccer, finished with four saves in a 2-0 win over Rocori and added five saves in a 0-0 tie with Moorhead.

Kate Stadum, volleyball, finished with 10 kills, three ace serves and two digs against St. Cloud Tech and added 14 kills, 13 digs, and one ace serve against Sartell.

Avery Duerr, girls swimming and diving, won the 200-yard freestyle and the 100 breaststroke against Bemidji.

Kaia Iske, girls swimming and diving, won the 100-yard butterfly and backstroke against Bemidji.

Mya Tautges, girls swimming and diving, won the 100-yard freestyle and 200 individual medley against Bemidji.

Lacy Busch, girls tennis, finished last week 4-0 at No. 3 singles.

Kamryn Kramer, girls tennis, finished last week 4-0 at No. 4 singles.

Lauren Kline, girls tennis, finished last week 4-0 at No. 3 doubles.

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Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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