Like a wedding ring passed down through several generations, the record for most career wins by a Pequot Lakes Patriots tennis player has become a family heirloom.
Since 1999, three different female tennis players have distinguished themselves as the winningest Patriot. All three own the last name Meschke.
First was Liz. A fiery competitor, according to father Steve, Liz finished with 93 career wins before graduating in 2000.
The leader of the pack played tennis and golf at Concordia College in Moorhead while studying biology. She transferred to the University of Montana on a golf scholarship her junior year.
Liz Meschke (left) finished her Pequot Lakes Patriots tennis career with 93 wins, Ashley Meschke had 124 and Val Meschke currently stands at 139. Liz and Ashley have owned the school record for most career wins. Val, a senior, now owns the record.
"Liz has kind of been the motivator," said Val Meschke, the youngest of the three sisters. "She tries to get Ashley and I to do the best we can. We never really had a rivalry against each other, but we would push each other.
"When Liz graduated, she would always call and check up on us to see if Ashley and I were doing OK."
Liz held the record until Ashley broke it in 2002. Ashley, the middle sister, who graduated in 2003, is the only one of the three to advance to the state tournament, which she did in 2001. She finished with 124 career wins.
Now she's playing tennis at the University of St. Mary's in Winona, while studying biology. She finished last year as the No. 1 singles player.
"Ashley was always very calm," said Steve Meschke. "She never would get too high or too low. She was always very calm."
For the record
The record: Most career wins for a Pequot Lakes tennis player.
The list: Val Meschke, 139 career wins
Ashley Meschke, 124 career wins
Liz Meschke, 93 career wins
While Ashley and Liz study for their degrees, Val is destroying their old records.
The senior actually broke the record last year in the South Subsection 7, Class 1A tournament. She currently stands at 139 career wins.
"Ashley is the only one who has made it to state," said Pequot coach Monica Sergent. "Val is hoping to go this year. Another one of her goals is to reach 150 career wins. She would have to be successful during post-season play, but she could reach it."
Currently Meschke is playing like a state-bound singles player. She's 13-1 with her last victory a three-set triumph over Staples-Motley's Jacque Peterson Sept. 3.
"They played for over three hours," said Sergent. "It was quite a battle with the third set going to a tie-breaker."
Val said the record wasn't the goal for any of the girls but Liz. She said Liz wanted to break the record; Ashley wanted to get 100 wins and Val wants 150.
"What we did was set individual goals to break," said Val. "Then we just competed against our individual goals.
"Mine is to get to 150. That's the goal that keeps me going day to day. Going to state is the goal that makes me work on the weekends.
"I want to go to state this year. I've been close every time. I'm determined to go. I played a lot over the summer."
It all started in Little Falls. Scott and Brenda Meschke signed the girls into community education tennis. The girls advanced through the ranks of middle school until the family moved to Pequot in 1998.
Since that time a Meschke girl has cemented the No. 1 singles spot for the Patriots. After this season that legacy comes to an end.
"There will be a big spot to fill at No. 1 singles," said Sergent. "We've been fortunate to have such a solid player in that position the last several years."
Scott Meschke said it's going to be different not going to a Pequot Lakes tennis match but added he has many college events to attend.
"It's been hitting me real hard," said Val. "I've really grown attached to my team. Kayla (Lenz) will definitely do a great job at No. 1 singles next year. It's sad, though. I guess it is time to move on."
Where Val moves to is still undecided. She wants to pave her own path, but didn't rule out going to St. Mary's and playing doubles with Ashley.
For the record, as Scott said, "it's just a number." But one could argue it's become a birth rite for all Meschke girls to obtain.
JEREMY MILLSOP, sports writer, can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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