Girl leads improbable school march in boy’s tournament

A story from the Minnesota high school boy’s tennis tournament provides today’s jumping off point for the ongoing debates in youth sports — what’s wrong with winning?

Nobody disputes that Jessie Aney, a senior at Rochester Century, is one of the best tennis players in the state, better than a lot of boys.

She proved that yesterday with a 6-2, 6-2 win in team quarterfinals of the Class 2A boys’ tennis state tournament at the University of Minnesota Baseline Tennis Center, the Star Tribune notes. Her squad sent Rochester Mayo home.

It’s a nice story of graciousness in that senior Branden Yates, one of the Panthers’ captains, took himself off the team so that Aney could be added.

“I had no idea that she would play for us until Branden called me up and said ‘I’ve got someone. What about Jessie?’ I was totally caught off guard. Branden is a great story. All he wanted was to get to state, even it if meant it didn’t work out for him,” the coach said.

Curiously, there’s no mention of the obvious in the story. The team opted to add a girl to the squad in order to give it a better chance at victory in a boy’s tournament.

How can this happen? Easy. There’s no rule against it in Minnesota.

She didn’t play on the girls team, which has a fall season, so she’s allowed to play on the boy’s team.

She won the girls state tournament title as a freshman and hasn’t played high school tennis since, WCCO says. She’s focusing on her career in national tournaments. She’s ranked No. 4 in the nation. She’s also one of the state’s premier hockey players.

“I was still a little hesitant,” she told KTTC this week. The Rochester station named her its athlete of the week. “Just like, is it going to be like normal for a girl to be part of the guys team. Are they going to accept me?”

Of course they could. She was their ticket to something Century boys had never accomplished before — advancing to the state tournament.

“We all wanted her to play,” senior Century captain Alex Senjem told the Rochester Post-Bulletin in April.

It’s in the rules and if Century wins the tournament, it’ll be because they had the best player. Who’s to say there’s anything wrong with that?