Girls Tennis: Lumberjacks upset top-ranked Warriors
Down two games.
Battle back to a tie.
Take a lead.
Force deuce over and over and over again.
Rally to a third-set tiebreaker.
As close as one can imagine a prep girls tennis match, that is what the No. 1 doubles teams of the top-seeded Brainerd Warriors and No. 2 seeded Bemidji Lumberjacks faced Tuesday, Oct. 13, at Brainerd High School.
Brainerd’s duo of Lily Jones-Kate Chaussee won the first set 7-5. Bemidji’s tandem of Lexi Leitner-Emily Dondelinger recovered for a 7-5 second-set win. In the third and final set, Bemidji prevailed 7-6 (5). And that win sent the Lumberjacks to the Section 8-2A championship match with a 4-3 victory and ended the Warriors season with a 9-1 record.
“It was just a well-fought tennis match,” Warrior head coach Lisa Salo said. “We had chances. They had chances. It was a see-saw, back-and-forth match. It was just about the team that was able to capitalize at that moment. To go to a third-set tiebreaker, it doesn’t get any closer than that.”
With the wind howling all day, the colder air set in to watch the marathon No. 1 doubles match.
After dropping the second Bemidji took advantage of the momentum to grab an early lead in the third set. Brainerd rallied for a 3-2 lead. Then it was a two-game streak for each as Bemidji went up 4-3 before Brainerd grabbed a 5-4 lead. Bemidji then took a 6-5 edge before the tiebreaker.
The Warriors posted a 6-1 victory over the Lumberjacks during the regular season. It was the last match before Brainerd went into a two-week quarantine and couldn’t practice or compete. The Lumberjacks changed their lineup and the move proved the difference.
“We knew they would switch their lineup and that wasn’t a surprise by any means and we talked to the girls about that,” Salo said. “It was a battle. We always tell our players to love the battle. We can’t control if we’re going to win or not, but it’s the pleasure of knowing you’re competing against a strong team and Bemidji competed well. Credit to them. They really did.
“You just walk out as a team and say we gave it all we could and, yes, the result didn’t go the way we would have liked, but we’re proud of our team and our program and in particular this group of seniors. They’re an incredible group of youth athletes and many of them will continue to play college tennis.”
Bemidji swept the doubles portion after losing all three earlier in the season. Brainerd’s No. 3 doubles team of Lila Collins-Ella Chaussee won the first set 6-3, but faltered in the final two 6-4, 6-3.
Savannah Haugen of Bemidji topped Kate Kurtzman at No. 1 singles 6-2, 6-4.
The Warriors three victories came at singles. Catherine Moraghan won 6-2, 6-2.
“I knew it was going to be windy so as the coaches always tell us you need good footwork and topspin in the wind,” Moraghan said. “I just wanted to play as freely as I could because I play my best when I’m loose. That’s what I wanted to go out and do.
“After the first game, I just settled in and I realized I was just going to have to keep the ball in play first of all, and then just hit my spots.I didn’t have to over hit or anything.”
Tylor Ruhl won at No. 3 6-3, -6-0 and No. 4 Lindsy Busch powered her way to a 6-0, 6-2 victory.
“I wanted to use my power today against my opponent,” Busch said. “I just had to keep hitting it back to her and she struggled with my pace.”
Busch said she loved playing No. 4 singles for the Warriors and Salo loved having Busch’s power in that final spot.
“We told her today that we want Lindsy Busch tennis,” Salo said. “She can really pace that ball and that’s what we can expect from her. She often will meet a player that can not match her pace so when she gets a softer ball we want her to own that shot. She did that today.
“Catherine has just had this steady progress. I love how she processes her game and thinks through pieces of her game. Those are big things that have really stood out from her all season.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Bemidji 4, Brainerd 3
No. 1: Savannah Haugen (Bem) def. Kate Kurtzman 6-2, 6-4
No. 2: Catherine Moraghan (Brd) def. Darby Neis 6-2, 6-2
No. 3: Taylor Ruhl (Brd) def. Margie Anderson 6-3, 6-0
No. 4: Lindsy Busch (Brd) def. Mollie Rupp 6-0, 6-2
No. 1: Lexi Leitner-Emily DondelingerNettie Kimble (Bem) def. Lily Jones-Kate Chaussee 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (5)
No. 2:Chloe Hasbergen-Tatum Offerdahl (Bem) def. Ally Goeden-Brynne Folden 6-3, 6-2
No. 3: Nettie Kimble-Paige Anderson (Bem) def. Lila Collins-Ella Chaussee 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
Bemidji 4, Warriors 3
Key: Bemidji collected three doubles wins
Final record: Brd 9-1