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State Tennis: Pequot’s Muller in state semis

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Pequot Lakes head coach Monica Sergent (left) talks with singles player Megan Muller during a break in Muller's opening-round match of the Class 1A State Singles Tournament Thursday, Oct. 24, at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center, Minneapolis. Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!

A bit of familiarity didn’t hurt Pequot Lakes’ Megan Muller in the Class 1A Individual Tournament Thursday, Oct. 24.

The No. 5 seeded singles player dispatched her first two opponents in the singles bracket to advance to the championship semifinals Friday, Oct. 25, at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis.

Muller opened against New London-Spicer’s Izzy Schmiesing, who played against Muller’s teammate Courtney Boller in Tuesday’s state team tournament quarterfinals.

Boller, who helped Pequot to fourth place in the team tournament, stayed to watch and help Muller for her first match. The result was a 6-2, 6-3 victory.

“(Courtney) just told me what she does really well and what her weaknesses are and that really helped,” Muller said. “She told me to play to her backhand and that helped a lot.”

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The first-round win set up a rematch between No. 4 seeded Lydia Delich of Eveleth-Gilbert. It was Delich, a freshman, that beat Muller, a sophomore, in the Section 7-1A individual finals the last time these two faced each other. Muller beat Delich twice during the regular season.

All three of those previous matches went three sets. On Thursday, Muller took down Delich in two sets 6-4, 6-3.

“It wasn’t a quick match,” Pequot head coach Monica Sergent said. “The points were very long and intense. There was a lot of hard hitting and pace on everyone’s shots. There was a lot of ball movement. Lydia is excellent at coming to the net and is very strong with her volleys. Megan has great passing shots and she can really hit the ball with a lot of pace to the corners.

“They both serve very well and both have good offensive games. They are both very fast so they get to a lot of balls. Even though it was only two sets, it was very intense.”

Muller said consistency and a positive mindset were keys to beating Delich. That mindset was also key to overcoming an ankle injury that kept Muller out of Wednesday’s third-place match in the team tournament. Muller said she didn’t think about her ankle at all during play.

“We were not sure what to expect, but we were hopeful based on what the athletic trainer told us (Wednesday),” Sergent said. “They have top-of-the-line trainers at this event. The trainer they had there today was leaving at noon to be the trainer at the Vikings game tonight (Thursday). We had a lot of faith in the evaluation and advise the trainer gave us so we were hopeful, but still unsure of how it would go.

“She moved really well out there.”

Muller will now face No. 1 seeded Arlina Shen of Blake 8 a.m. Friday, Oct. 25, in the championship semifinals. Muller is the youngest of the four semifinalists, which include senior Clare Palen of Rochester Lourdes and junior Sonia Baig also of Blake.

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“I just want to do my best and have fun,” Muller said. “I watched (Shen) when I could and she looked really good. It was fun to watch her. I’m excited to play her.”

Said Sergent: “Megan is definitely playing some of her best tennis right now. She’s very focused. Her form is good and her mental game is very strong. She’s determined and really in control of managing her strategy and managing the points as they unfold during the match.”

Both Staples-Motley Cardinals doubles teams suffered back-to-back losses in the doubles bracket Thursday.

The pair of Tasha Achermann-Rose Han fell to Lake City’s Ava Wllerich-Emma Brunkow 6-2, 6-1 in their opening match. In the consolation quarterfinals, Ellie Becker-Jaelyn Haler of St. James eliminated the Cardinals 6-1, 6-2.

The duo of Haley Cichos-Jenna Dvorak were handed the same outcome with a 6-2, 6-1 loss to Camryn Hoffarth-Mara VanNyhuis of Osakis in the first round. Elyse Palen-Ryan Witter of Rochester Lourdes topped them 6-3, 6-1 in the consolation quarterfinals.

Singles
Opening round: No. 5 seeded Megan Muller (Pequot Lakes) def. Izzy Schmiesing (New London-Spicer) 6-2, 6-3
Quarterfinals: Muller def. No. 4 seeded Lydia Delich (Eveleth-Gilbert) 6-4, 6-3
Semifinals: Muller vs. No. 1 seeded Arlina Shen (Blake)

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Doubles
Opening round: Ava Wallerich-Emma Brunkow (Lake City) def. Tasha Achermann-Rose Han (Staples-Motley) 6-2, 6-1; Camryn Hoffarth-Mara VanNyhuis (Osakis) def. Haley Cichos-Jenna Dvorak (Staples-Motley) 6-2, 6-1
Consolation quarterfinals: Ellie Becker-Jaelyn Haler (St. James) def. Achermann-Han 6-1, 6-2; Elyse Palen-Ryann Witter (Rochester Lourdes) def. Cichos-Dvorak 6-3, 6-1

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Staples-Motley's Rose Han returns a shot during the opening round of the Class 1A State Doubles Tournament Thursday, Oct. 24 at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis. Bill Johson / Picture Day Pro!

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