Girls Tennis: Warriors ready for action as season opens Aug. 25

Using their rackets for social distancing Brainerd Warrior seniors Raleigh Mann (left), Chloe Pecarich, Kate Chaussee, Lily Jones, Kate Kurtzman and Ally Goeden take a break on the Brainerd High School courts Tuesday, Aug. 18. The Warriors play their first game Tuesday, Aug. 25. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

When the Brainerd Warriors take to the court Tuesday, Aug. 25, it will be the first Warrior activity since March 3.

That was a 75-72 Brainerd boys basketball loss to Moorhead in the Section 8-4A playoffs.

The excitement felt on the tennis court is palpable, said Warrior head coach Lisa Salo, who hopes to build off a 9-0 Central Lakes Conference season and a 15-3 overall mark last year.

With six seniors and three other returners, the Warriors should be poised to do just that.

Senior Kate Kurtzman endured a learning season last year as she jumped up to the No. 1 singles slot and posted a 17-11 record.


Kurtzman’s steady improvement landed her a team co-Most Valuable Player award and All-Central Lakes Conference honors. She finished 2-0 in the North Subsection 8-2A tournament before falling in her opening match of Section 8.

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“She’s going to be able to draw on that experience from last year and she knows it,” Salo said. “She’s already talked about it herself. She can feel the growth in her game and the experience of playing in that No. 1 position. She’s a seasoned varsity veteran as she started playing for points as an eighth-grader. She’s just a strong competitor and she wants to become more strategic in her play and she has the tools to do it.”

Lisa Salo

From there the Warriors lineup, while filled with experience, may have a different look from match to match. Salo said not having a preseason or early-year multiple-team invitations could mean the Warrior lineup changes from match to match.

One thing the Warriors will not be without is depth and experience at doubles.

Last year’s No. 1 doubles team returns in the form of Lily Jones and Ally Goeden. The partners went 18-11 last year, including 2-0 in the subsection and 0-1 in the section tournament. The duo was all-conference honorees, as well.

“Ally and Lily are senior leaders,” Salo said. “They’ll be willing to shift and go into whatever role they need to be and with whatever partner they need to be to make our team the strongest.


“I really need to highlight our senior leadership that is helping with these more difficult times.”

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Chloe Pecarich also returns. Last year, she was paired with the graduated Addie Sanford and the two rattled off a 24-6 record. Pecarich is coming off hip surgery, but is ready for battle.

“To come off a major surgery and for a young athlete to go through that, and it was right before COVID-19 hit in early March so thank goodness otherwise it would have been delayed and who knows if she would be on the court with us right now,” Salo said. “But she got it done and her recovery has been steady. It’s not always the physical recovery, but the mental. It’s about being able to trust yourself and she’s been given the clearance and she’s ready to go. She’s doing a great job and credit to her rehab.”

Another returning doubles player is Catherine Moraghan who earned a 23-2 record last year.

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“We anticipate shifts in our lineup,” Salo said. “Those last year who played singles might be playing doubles and vise versa. We really don’t know, but what I can say is the girls that come back in Lily, Ally, Chloe and Catherine are coming back with tons of doubles experience — successful doubles experience.

“We just don’t know pairings. And we’ve already talked with Catherine and she is one that may shift into singles. That’s just the versatility that we have. Catherine has a major weapon in her groundstrokes and what she has done is improve her footwork so she can use her forehand as a weapon.”

Other singles players returning are the sister duo of Kate Chaussee and Ella Chaussee. Kate finished 14-13 at No. 2 doubles, while Ella was 18-7 at No. 4 singles.

RELATED: Girls Tennis: Chaussees key to Warrior win
“We could see Kate Chaussee shifting over to some doubles and we’re going to try that,” Salo said. “She has great groundstrokes and consistent groundstrokes, but that serve is a real weapon of hers. Then her net play is where she is strong and she’s only going to improve. She didn’t use a lot of that in singles, but she has that and she would be valuable in doubles.


“Ella was a young player last year and had just a standout year and battled at No. 4 singles. She had that surge in her game last year and now she’s transitioning into taking that next step. She’s getting there and she’s improved a ton.”

Lindsy Busch finished last year with an 8-0 record in limited varsity action. She will be relied on heavily this year.

“Her game has really accelerated,” Salo said. “She spent a lot of time working on her game in the offseason. We see her going into a singles position and we’ll see.”

Salo said despite last year’s experience the returning players will have their hands full with keeping the top 10 roster spots thanks to a surge of talent coming through the ranks.

Salo mentioned Brynne Folden whose play has improved and is aggressive at the net. Lila Collins owns some of those same characteristics along with a tenacity that Salo enjoys watching.

Taylor Ruhl has accelerated her game and could be a mainstay in the Warriors’ singles lineup.

Fellow senior Raleigh Mann has been on the varsity for a number of years and should provide depth in either singles or doubles.

The Warriors’ schedule consists of one match each against CLC opponents and matches against Moorhead and Bemidji, which are considered regional opponents. Brainerd will face St. Cloud Tech twice this season.


Because of the uncertainty of a postseason, there may be a conference event to conclude the season Oct. 1

“We know the tradition in those programs and what they typically bring,” Salo said. “I see us being very competitive and I know teams are going to want to bring their best against us. Teams do tend to compete against us well, but I think we’ll do well and we’ll see how things shake out in our lineup.”

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or Follow on Twitter at


Seniors: Kate Chaussee, Ally Goeden, Lily Jones, Kate Kurtzman, Raleigh Mann, Chloe Pecarich
Juniors: Avery Anakkala, Lindsy Busch, Natalie Feierabend, Brynne Folden, Catherine Moraghan, Kaylee Oppelt, Olivia Orlowski, Taylor Ruhl
Sophomores: Paige Beyer, Rilee Borders, Ellie Brown, Ella Chaussee, Cassidy Grimsley, Taylor Harrington, Cadence Hartwig, Hannah Hayes, Riley Schackman
Freshmen: Lacy Busch, Lyllian Caponi, Sophia Karsnia, Lila Collins, Bailey Czech, Olivia Dehning, Claire Erdal, Lauren Kline, Lydia Olson, Lydia Omberg, Jasmine Patnoe
Eighth-grade: Ericah Folden


Tuesday, Aug. 25: at St. Cloud Tech 3 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 27: at Fergus Falls 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 1: hosts Sartell 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 3: at Rocori 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 10: hosts St. Cloud Apollo/Sauk Rapids 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 15: hosts St. Cloud Tech 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 17: at Willmar 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 22: hosts Bemidji 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 24: at Moorhead 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 29: hosts Alexandria 4:30 p.m.
Oct. 1: CLC event TBD

Girls Tennis

Head coach: Lisa Salo, 16th season (1985-92, 2013-20)
2019 finish: 9-0 in CLC, 15-3 overall
Assistant coaches: Chad Anderson, Briana Rademacher, Bruce Thompson
Volunteer coach: Sara Wennerstand
Returning members of section team: Kate Kurtzman, Lily Jones, Katherine Chaussee, Ally Goeden, Chloe Pecarich, Catherine Moraghan, Ella Chaussee

Lisa Salo

Lisa Salo

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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