ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) - Mayo's Claire Loftus is the best girls tennis player in Southeastern Minnesota, and she's only in 8th grade. She's undefeated on the season, and led the Spartans to their 23rd Big 9 Title in the last 24 years. She, and the Spartans, are rolling.
"I'd say it's gone pretty well so far," said Loftus. "Our team is doing well this season, like every other season, and more seasons to come I hope."
Loftus has yet to enter high school, but she's a grizzled veteran at the Spartans' top spot. She was a state qualifier last year as a 7th grader, but now she's even better -- and she knows why.
"I think just growing overall, strength-wise and tall-wise," Loftus said. "I've been able to hit my shots harder and I have more muscles."
Mayo head coach Jeff Demaray has seen all the tennis there is to see in this area. He's been the Mayo girls tennis coach for 30 seasons, so he knows how special of a talent Loftus is.
"Claire is a tremendous player," Demaray said. "She really just takes control of points so well. She's just a phenomenal tennis player, and one of the best ever as an 8th grader that I've coached."
While there is still plenty of time left in her high school career, it's clear a higher level of tennis is in her future.
"I plan to play for many years to come, and hopefully college tennis. I don't really know if i want to play D1 or D3 yet, but hopefully college tennis at least," she said.
"I absolutely think she could play D1," said Demaray. "She could play D1 pretty close right now at some schools."
Claire Loftus of the Mayo Spartans tennis team is this week's KTTC Athlete of the Week.