Lily Jones was affectionately called a bulldog by the Brainerd Warriors girls tennis team.
Next year they’ll call her a Beaver.
The senior will join the Bemidji State University women’s tennis team next year as Jones signed her NCAA National Letter of Intent.
Jones played No. 1 doubles for the Warriors the past two seasons. This year she teamed with fellow senior Kate Chaussee to post a 9-1 record in the COVID-19 abbreviated season.
Jones admitted that having any season at all was key to her landing a spot on BSU’s roster.
“It was pretty important just so I could continue to play and people could see me playing,” Jones said. “I’m guessing without a season it would have been a little harder to get a spot on a team because I wouldn’t have had any experience or match play to help grow my game.”
For her career, Jones posted a 49-17 record and helped Brainerd to an undefeated regular season this year. She said the biggest adjustment to playing college tennis is having to play both doubles and singles.
“I never really played singles, so I think it will be fun to try it and see what it’s like,” Jones said. “I played doubles my whole high school tennis career.”
Warrior head coach Lisa Salo takes great pride in having her athletes continue their tennis careers. Plus, it gives her something to do when she’s not coaching.
“I am excited Lily is going to continue her tennis career,” she said. “It is always so rewarding to see our players make the commitment to play college tennis. Many have done that throughout the years. Our program is strong, our athletes are talented and have the skills and competitiveness to continue their tennis careers in college.
“Lily's hard work has paid off. She was an impact player on our team and will no doubt impact her college team as well. The fun part for me is, I always make a point of going to watch our alumni compete in college. It is fun for me to cheer on our Warrior alumni.”
Jones displayed her versatility as a tennis teammate by working with a new doubles partner this year. It didn’t Jones and Chaussee long to become a dominant doubles pairing. Salo called them the best doubles team in the section and had there been a normal postseason they would have been hard to keep out of the state tournament.
But Jones knows her game will need to be improved
“I think my serve,” Jones said. “I’ll need to get a more consistent serve and just keep hitting with pace. I’ll be playing with girls that hit with a little more pace than girls in high school do.”
Jones said she had options for a place to play next year, but was happy with the BSU campus and the players on the Beavers’ tennis team.
While proximity to home wasn’t a key factor, she said she didn’t want to move too far from the Brainerd area.
She believes she’ll fit in well with the team next year and is most happy about having this decision past her. Now she can focus on the fun decisions.
“It’s a really big relief because there isn’t the stress of where am I going to go,” Jones said. “Now it’s just finding the roommate and doing all the fun things. That’s a big relief.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.