Girls Tennis: Warriors open postseason in style
The Brainerd Warriors opened the Section 7-2A Tournament against No. 13 Princeton Tuesday, Oct. 4.
BRAINERD — It’s been one goal building onto another goal for the Brainerd Warriors.
The Warriors wanted to win the Central Lakes Conference for a fourth straight season. The goal became reality last week when the Warriors topped Rocori to finish the conference season unbeaten.
Brainerd’s next goal was to host a Section 7-2A team tournament dual. That goal was realized late Sunday, Oct. 2, when the Warriors earned the No. 4 seed in the tournament that began Tuesday, Oct. 4.
The Warriors’ next goal was to host two section duals. That goal was accomplished Tuesday when the Warriors eliminated the No. 13 seeded Princeton Tigers 7-0 at Brainerd High School.
“It builds,” Warrior head coach Lisa Salo said. “You know when you achieve a goal it feels pretty darn good. We have a competitive conference and we felt pretty good about winning it. One of our messages at practice, we do a Warrior Word of the Day, and the day after we secured the conference title I put on the court with chalk “CLC Champs, what’s next?
“We talked about what winning the conference could catapult us to do next.”
The Warriors won six of the seven matches in straight sets with No. 4 singles player Kamryn Kraemer winning her match 6-0, 6-0. Lila Collins dropped just one game in her No. 2 singles win. Lacy Busch posted a 6-1, 6-1 victory at No. 3 singles and Ella Chaussee has found her grove of late as she secured a 6-3, 6-2 victory at No. 1 singles.
Tuesday was Brainerd’s first time seeing Princeton this season.
“We tell our players to focus on our game,” Salo said. “We want to play our style, but when they start the warm-up with the other team they have to assess what type of hitters they will be playing against. What do the groundstrokes look like? Does the player seem comfortable at the net? What are those shots looking like? Then they have a little bit of info and can make their game plan and be prepared.
“We knew a little bit about them and we knew what they were seeded in the tournament, but seeds don’t mean anything.”
The duo of Ellie Brown-Lydia Omberg captured a 6-2, 6-2 victory at No. 2 doubles and the third doubles team of Brooklyn Dietz-Lauren Kline needed a third set, but still managed a 6-7 (3), 6-0, 6-1 victory.
Brainerd’s No. 1 doubles team of Clarie Erdahl-Ericah Folden continued their dominant play with a 6-3, 6-0 victory. It’s a far cry from the beginning of the season when the two were shocked to even be playing No. 1 doubles let alone winning straight-set matches.
“We were pretty confident, but we know to always go into a match with the same goal and mindset,” Erdahl said. “We can’t play down to their level and we need to play as hard as we can.”
Erdahl said before each match they focus on having positive energy and a lot of energy. After a few serves, however, Folden knew the recipe for success.
“We knew that we just had to take over the net because when we’re aggressive at the net it puts our opponents in a tough position,” Folden said. “Our serves were a really big part of the game, too. We just needed to get our serves in and keep our unforced errors low.”
This is the first year playing No. 1 doubles for either athlete. Erdahl is a junior and Folden is a sophomore, but they knew they wanted to be paired together. Folden said coming into the season their partnership was anticipated for the lineup. The question remained, however, where in the lineup?
“I think our mindset at first was, ‘Oh my gosh we’re playing first doubles. Why us?’” Erdahl said. “Now we’re like, we deserve this spot. We’ve worked so hard and we can see how our efforts have made it so we’re rightfully here.”
Folden said being good friends helped initially, but she also said the friendship might also be hindering their play -- just a little.
“Sometimes when one of us gets down sometimes we just need to yell at each other and be like ‘Come on. Let’s go. Knock it off,’” Folden said while smiling at Erdahl. “Sometimes we’re a little too nice. We’ve worked on that and we can be mean to each other when we need to be.”
Salo rattled off a list of attributes that make the two a duo to be reckoned with. She mentioned athleticism and intelligence. She said both players possess strong tennis techniques. It was why Salo knew right away that this was going to be her No. 1 doubles team.
“Early on,” Salo said. “We saw the first week of practice what level they were coming in with. Again, they’re both super competitive. But we knew pretty much early on because they had the shots and the mentality. They are fearless and that’s what you need in that spot because you’re going to meet a pretty tough team every single time.”
Both teams agreed to play junior varsity matches and collecting wins for Brainerd were Lydia Olson, Brook Mulholland and Hannah Hayes in singles. Hayes and Jessica Cole teamed together for a doubles win along with Liv Dehning-Paige Beyer, Leah Soukup-Rebekah Soukup and Kramer-Cole.
Brainerd 7, Princeton 0
No. 1: Ella Chaussee (Brd) def. Amelia White 6-3, 6-2
No. 2: Lila Collins (Brd) def. Violet Wyleda 6-1, 6-0
No. 3: Lacy Busch (Brd) def. Sloane Griesert 6-1, 6-1
No. 4: Kamryn Kraemer (Brd) def. Addison Suratt 6-0, 6-0
No. 1: Claire Erdal-Ericah Folden (Brd) def. Emily White-Allie Engbrecht 6-3, 6-0
No. 2: Ellie Brown-Lydia Omberg (Brd) def. Greta Kelzer-Emily Jeernander 6-2, 6-2
No. 3: Brooklyn Dietz-Lauren Kline (Brd) def. Elizabeth Harshman-Aubrey Harcala
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Warriors 7, Princeton 0
Key: Brainerd won in straight sets in six of the seven matches
Overall: Brd 21-2
Next: No. 4 Brainerd hosts No. 5 Blaine/No. 12 St. Francis winner 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6