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Tennis just a part of Bakke's persona

Greta Bakke completed her high school career as a four-time Middle Border Conference singles champion and a two-time WIAA Division 1 state qualifier. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

If you think tennis is all there is to Greta Bakke, you don't know her at all.

Though she completes her New Richmond High School girls tennis career as one of the most successful players in Tiger history, tennis isn't a large part of Bakke's future plans. And she does have plans, very structured and well thought out plans for her future.

Bakke plans a career in dentistry. While a number of colleges have pursued her to compete for their teams, none has swayed her in the least to deviate away from her plans for the future.

Bakke finishes her career as one of the most successful players in New Richmond girls tennis history. She finished her Tiger career with a 74-35 record and four individual Middle Border Conference championships. Her first MBC title came as a freshman at three singles. She has won the conference championship each of the past three seasons at one singles. She was also the first New Richmond girl to qualify for the WIAA state tournament since the Tigers were elevated to Division 1, doing so as a junior and senior.

Bakke will tell you that she doesn't have one great strength in her tennis package of skills. She recognized early in her tennis career that she wasn't capable of being a power player who could rocket shots past opponents. That recognition caused Bakke to assess her game each summer, looking at the areas where she most needed to strengthen her game. Her greatest strength became . the fact that her game had no weaknesses, and she constantly worked to be a tougher opponent to play against.

"She's got steely mindset. Not much would rattle Greta," said New Richmond girls tennis coach Denise Devereux."

Bakke said "every year my focus was on being more of an all-around player. I don't make a lot of errors. I don't let my opponents hit a lot of winners."

In each of her high school seasons, she came back a noticeably better player than the prior season.

Like many top athletes, Bakke's intensity was a driving force behind her success. She said she never felt pressure from other people's expectations, or things like becoming the team's number one player as a sophomore. She said the only pressure she felt came from inside her. Bakke said she put pressure on herself this year because she reached the state tournament last year and felt that she had to do that again this year.

The demeanor Bakke displays on the court is all business. She rarely reacts, whether something good or bad happens on the court. Devereux said that's fitting of Bakke's personality. But underneath, Bakke's fiery intensity shows through.

"I lost seven matches this year and I was mad about all of them," she said.

Getting involved in tennis was a Bakke family decision. When her older sister, Emma, was a sophomore, her parents decided to get all three sisters into tennis. Greta quickly became heavily involved in tennis, taking individual lessons to sharpen her game. The past few years, she and younger sister Mia have played in sumer U.S. Tennis Association tournaments. They play during the offseason in Eau Claire to continue advancing their game.

Devereux said the offseason dedication is what elevated Greta to a premier level.

"Tennis is a sport you need to be willing to have the racquet in your hands. There's a lot of technique to it," she said.

Dedication to excellence drives Bakke in the classroom too. She's one of the top students in her class. She's also vice president of the NRHS senior class, president of the National Honor Society and a tutor and a mentor. That dedication carries into her decision to enter dentistry. This summer, she did shadowing in the University of Minnesota dentistry program to get a taste of what is involved in being a dentist.

"I like the medical stuff," she said. "I want to be more focused on one single skill," she said on her decision to go into dentistry other than another medical field.

Dave Newman

Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for more than 30 years.

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