Warriors hope to remove albatross at state
Ellen Fussy and the Brainerd Warriors girls tennis team want to remove an albatross and they believe this is the year.
The albatross is not having won a dual meet in the last two Class 2A state team tournaments. In 2009, the first trip to state in program history, Brainerd lost 6-1 to Elk River and 4-3 to Rosemount. Last year the Warriors were defeated 7-0 by Rochester Mayo and 5-2 by Cretin-Derham Hall.
On Tuesday the Warriors get another shot at gaining respect when they play Rosemount at noon at the Baseline Tennis Center at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
“That is our goal, to win a match, try to win two, and play our best,” Fussy said. “We can compete with people. I don’t believe it's a fluke we’re going down there. These girls know how to play tennis. If they keep their mental game and keep their confidence up it's just another tennis match. If we play like we know how to play we'll be in any match we play.
“It's not enough for us to just make the trip. We need to go there and compete. And, the girls have competed all year.”
Brainerd's singles lineup includes Mikinzee Salo (31-3) at No. 1, Brianna Rademacher (22-10) at No. 2, Natalie Comeau (21-8) at No. 3 and Mackayla Headlee (24-5) at No. 4.
In doubles, Kayla Kraemer-Sara Wennerstrand (21-3) will play No. 1, Nichole Gervenak-Megan Hintz (30-4) play No. 2 and Morgan Steffen-Caitlin Steffen (24-5) play No. 3.
Alternates are Rosemary Hunter, Alex Williamson and Zoe Wolhart.
Salo and Kraemer also want that elusive first win for the program, as well as to better their sixth-place doubles tournament finish from last year.
“My goal for the team is I want to win a match at state,” Salo said. “We've struggled there. We've come up against some really good teams. This year I feel like we're putting our best team forward. We're going to play Rosemount. We've been told it should be a good match for us.
“Kayla and I were in the consolation finals last year. We were so close. We want to break into the top four in the state this year.”
Kraemer said, “For the team it would be to win our first match and hopefully more after that. Individually, our goal is to go as far as we can and hopefully do better than last year.”
Salo and Kraemer, 7-0 as a postseason tandem, will open in the doubles tournament Thursday against Wayzata’s Alissa Heiring-Caitlin Eichten.
Six teams return from last year, including defending champions Edina. The Hornets, ranked No. 1 in the final coaches’ association poll, return seven players with 2010 tournament experience and are seeking their 15th consecutive state title.
Returning teams, other than Brainerd and Edina, are Mounds View, Rochester Mayo, Minnetonka and Elk River. Mounds View was runner-up last year, Mayo finished third and Minnetonka fourth.
Three other qualifying teams were ranked in the final poll: Mounds View No. 2, Mayo No. 3 and Minnetonka No. 5.
The Cardinals will open the 1A state tournament against second-ranked St. James at noon Tuesday at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis.
It will be the Cardinals’ seventh straight trip to state. They were runners-up last year.
S-M’s Maggie O’Keefe-Kelsey Zetah will play in the 1A doubles tournament Thursday, opening against Janna Juntunen-Sabrina Zimmel of Osakis.
Staples-Motley’s tournament team includes Mikayla Wing, Sarah Koopman, Clarissa Ponti, Karlee Haglin , Maggie O’Keefe, Kelsey Zetah, Brooke Wolhowe, Emily Israelson, Nikki Edin and Grace Wolhowe. Atlernates are Taylor Bissonette, Katie Givans, Linsey Johnson and Annie Kautto.
Rochester Lourdes returns to defend its team title with seven members back from 2010.
Returning teams, other than Lourdes and S-M, are Waseca, Virginia and St. James. Waseca finished fourth in 2010, Virginia earned consolation honors, and St. James lost in the consolation semifinals.
Seven qualifying teams were ranked in the final coaches’ poll: Blake, No. 1; St. James, No. 2; Waseca, No. 3; Osakis, No. 4; Virginia, No. 5; Rochester Lourdes, No. 6; and Providence Academy, No. 7.