The Bemidji tennis team fell one victory short of the state tournament as the Lumberjacks dropped a 5-2 decision to Brainerd Tuesday in the 8AA championship match in Sartell.
"When we started the season in August our goal was to advance to the section final and we did that," said BHS coach Mark Fodness. "We put ourselves into a position to be in the championship match and we feel good about that."
Tuesday was a very long day for the Jacks. It started at 9:30 a.m. with the team semifinals and a 4-3 win over St. Cloud Apollo. When that was completed BHS had a pair of doubles teams competing in the individual tournament and, when they were done it was right back into the team final.
Emma Nielsen and Katie Ditmanson formed one of the doubles teams and they dropped a 7-5, 6-3 decision to Kristen Schmidt and Ellie Bergstrand of Alexandria in the afternoon session.
Bemidji's other doubles tandem, Cortne Solberg and Jessica Solberg, won Tuesday afternoon 6-1, 6-2 over a team from Fergus Falls and they returned to the court late Tuesday in the section quarterfinals and blitzed Schmidt and Bergstrand 6-0, 6-1.
Thursday the Solberg sisters will return to Sartell for the 8AA doubles semifinals.
Against Brainerd in the team section final Jessica Solberg won 6-3, 6-1 at second singles and Amy Frosaker posted a 6-1, 6-2 victory at third singles.
The Warriors won the remaining matches. Cortne Solberg fell 6-1, 6-1 at first singles and Claudia Bellew lost 6-1, 6-1 at fourth.
In doubles, Nielsen and Ditmanson fell 6-2, 6-3 at first, Haley Pollock and Mackenzie Schultz lost 6-2, 6-2 at second and Claire Baumgartner and Francesca Huerd dropped a 6-3, 6-1 decision at third.
In Tuesday's section semifinals Bemidji slipped past St. Cloud Apollo 4-3 and Brainerd nipped St. Cloud Tech by the same score.
"Both came down to the final match on the court," Fodness said. "Both matches were very exciting."
With three matches to be decided the Lumberjacks and Eagles were knotted 2-2
"We had to win two of the final three matches to advance," Fodness said.
Of the remaining matches, Jessica Solberg was the first to finish and Bemidji's second singles representative posted a 7-5, 6-4 victory.
Apollo evened the team score once again a few minutes later, however, when Briann Anderson trimmed Cortne Solberg 6-3, 6-3 at first singles.
"The outcome would ride on first doubles," Fodness said.
Nielsen and Ditmanson handled those duties for the Lumberjacks and they dropped the first set 6-4 to Jenna Treat and Rebecca Hambest.
Nielsen and Ditmanson also had yielded a game in the second set when the spotlight hit them.
"After that point in the match, however, they lost only two more games the rest of the way," Fodness said. Emma and Katie kicked it up a huge notch when they knew that everything was riding on their outcome."
Once Nielsen and Ditmanson hit fifth gear Treat and Hambest didn't stand a chance and Bemidji cruised to a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 win.
Earlier in the match the Lumberjacks had won the other two doubles battles. Schultz and Pollock teamed for a 6-3, 6-2 victory at second doubles and the duo of Baumgartner and Huerd breezed to a 6-1, 6-2 triumph at third.
Earlier singles action saw Frosaker fall 6-3, 6-2 at third and Bellew drop a 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 verdict at fourth.