Since she was just a little girl Lauren Welch, a junior from White Bear Lake High School, has continuously been working on her tennis game in hopes of one day winning a Minnesota state title. Last year that dream was even closer than she ever realized, the only difference was, that in this dream it wasn't Lauren alone but instead she was accompanied by her doubles teammate, a graduating senior, Emily Brown. Welch and Brown were not heavily favored but would breeze their way through sections without allowing opponents to win even a single set against them and they each had sacrificed individual accomplishments to end a 30 year skid of White Bear Lake High School not having a doubles team advance to state.
Welch and Brown were paired off against Jessica Edwards and Kylie Boyer, a team from Rochester Mayo that would eventually finish 3rd in the state. Welch and Brown lost that first game but were able to muster up a victory in their consolation bracket before eventually being eliminated in the consolation semifinals. As Welch put it, "It was nerve wracking, but it was also a ton of fun!"
This year Welch returns to the court but in a much more familiar role as a singles player looking for another shot at a state title. "I've always played singles, since making the team as a 7th grader" Welch said. "In singles you rely on yourself and you're required to be able to move a lot more and cover more ground. In doubles it's more about communicating with your partner and even if you're not hitting the ball, you have to stay in it because you're still going to be involved in the point."
Welch has backed up her pursuit by having a record of 8-1 through her first 9 conference matches and is already pursuing a return trip to state tournament. As Welch would explain it, her pursuit stems from the strongest part of her tennis game, her determination. "I go out in every single match and try my hardest" Welch said. "I decide that I will be the one winning and nothing can stop me."
With only a few matches left before the section tournament Welch and teammates prepare for another shot at sections glory and a state tournament that looks to be filled with a tremendous pool of talent. The state tournament is scheduled to begin October, 25th at Baseline Tennis Center at the University of Minnesota. Welch is hoping to return there as a participant and not just another spectator.