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Girls Tennis: Unbeaten Warriors roll to 10th victory

Warriors 7, Alexandria 0 The key: Brainerd won five matches in straight sets Conference: Brd 4-0, A 3-3 Overall: Brd 10-0, A 7-7 Next: Brainerd at Moorhead Triangular Saturday: Brainerd vs. Moorhead 10 a.m., Brainerd vs. Thief River Falls 11:30 a.m.

Brainerd’s Nicole Rud returns the ball during the No. 2 doubles match against Alexandria. Kelly Humphrey/Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video
Brainerd’s Nicole Rud returns the ball during the No. 2 doubles match against Alexandria. Kelly Humphrey/Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video

Warriors 7, Alexandria 0

The key: Brainerd won five matches in straight sets

Conference: Brd 4-0, A 3-3

Overall: Brd 10-0, A 7-7

Next: Brainerd at Moorhead Triangular Saturday: Brainerd vs. Moorhead 10 a.m., Brainerd vs. Thief River Falls 11:30 a.m.

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They are unbeaten in the Central Lakes Conference and overall and are awaiting Tuesday's annual showdown against the St. Cloud Tech Tigers.

But the Brainerd Warriors aren't overlooking any opponent before meeting Class 2A's sixth-ranked Tigers. Thursday was an example of that attitude as the Warriors dealt the Cardinals a 7-0 defeat in 80-degree heat and humidity at the Brainerd High School courts.

Brainerd improved to 4-0 in the CLC and had entered the meet tied with Tech for the conference lead. The Warriors hoisted their overall mark to 10-0, matching the start of the 2009 team that went on to capture the program's first section championship.

"We've worked really hard," said senior doubles player Libby Kurtzman, one of five team captains. "I think we've really earned it. All the girls have really been digging deep, pulling out some hard matches, like with Bemidji and Willmar and here today. That's super exciting for us.

"I don't think, out of all my (four) years, we've gone undefeated for so long."

Thursday the Warriors won five matches in straight sets. Britney Fletcher won at No. 2 singles and Kate Kurtzman at No. 3. Taya Person-Libby Kurtzman won at No. 1 doubles, Nicole Rud and Maria Bell at No. 2 and Hannah Rud-Heidi Jacobson at No. 3.

Payge Fitterer at No. 1 singles and Audrey Collins at No. 4 each played 3-hour marathons before prevailing.

"We just competed really solid today," Warriors coach Lisa Salo said. "Alexandria always plays with a lot of grit. They may start a little slow at times. In some matches, we were up right away, but I knew this was a team that wouldn't back down and I knew we wouldn't back down. We had to be ready and it was a great team win."

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Fitterer improved to 13-3, Fletcher 12-4, Kate Kurtzman 16-1 and Collins 9-3.

Person is 16-1 in doubles, Libby Kurtzman 12-1, Nicole Rud-Bell 16-1, Hannah Rud 16-1 and Jacobson 17-0.

Fitterer outlasted Jamie Lanoue 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4 in a grueling match that finished under the lights. After dropping the tie-breaker, Salo said Fitterer knew she had to change her focus for the third set.

"She wasn't frustrated actually, but it was like 'All right, now I've got to play to win and compete' and that's what she did," Salo said. "She was poised and mature and played very solid tennis."

After losing the first set 6-2, Collins regrouped to win her marathon 6-1, 6-4.

"Audrey was getting kind of pushed around on the court," Salo said. "She was not hitting through the ball. (Assistant) coach (Chad) Anderson gave her some great advice-'Let's hit out on that ball.' We did one specific (practice) drill that he reflected on and Audrey just took off.

"Fourth singles players many are backboards and Audrey met a backboard. Audrey can be a backboard, but she has many other weapons. She doesn't push the ball. She strokes through the ball. Once she started doing that, the match and momentum shifted for her."

Tuesday, Brainerd travels to Tech and Libby Kurtzman is optimistic about the Warriors' chances of defeating the Tigers for the first time since 2011, a string of nine consecutive losses.

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"They did (graduate) Taylor Tarrolly," Libby Kurtzman said. "I think that will definitely give us a leg up. We're going to play our hardest. We've worked hard and so have they. It will be a good match.

"I honestly think, out of all my years, this is our best chance at beating them."

Brainerd 7, Alexandria 0

Singles

No. 1: Payge Fitterer (B) def. Jamie Lanoue 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4

No. 2: Britney Fletcher (B) def. Alli Prestby 6-1, 6-1

No. 3: Kate Kurtzman (B) def. Brianna Holm 6-2, 6-0

No. 4: Audrey Collins (B) def. Rachel Bitzan 2-6, 6-1, 6-4

Doubles

No. 1: Taya Person-Libby Kurtzman (B) def. Taylor Partington-Laura Wilmesmeier 6-3, 6-0

No. 2: Nicole Rud-Maria Bell (B) def. Madison Ressemann-Abby Sater 6-3, 6-2

No. 3: Hannah Rud-Heidi Jacobson (B) def. Annie Harting-Kaylee Svee 6-2, 6-0

Brainerd junior varsity

Singles winners: Chloe Pecarich, Emily Moore, Ella Kline, Lily Plested

Doubles winners: Jaycie Hinrichs-Macey Peterson, Kate Chaussee-Lily Jones, Amber Britton-Peyton McConkey, Madi Kalenberg-Amy Meyer, Raleigh Mann-Ava Thompson, Lexus Ruggles-Hailey Nameniuk

Brainerd’s Nicole Rud returns the ball during the No. 2 doubles match against Alexandria. Kelly Humphrey/Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video
Brainerd’s Nicole Rud returns the ball during the No. 2 doubles match against Alexandria. Kelly Humphrey/Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video

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