Bemidji wins title at Brainerd Invitational
BRAINERD — As a concession to the weather, which included temperatures in the 90s, the coaches involved in Monday’s Brainerd Invitational decided to shorten the format to a single 8-point pro-set game instead of the customary best-of-three sets. And that was fine with the Bemidji girls tennis players and coaches.
“We had a really good day overall,” said BHS coach Mark Fodness after the Lumberjacks defeated Virginia 5-2 and Brainerd 4-3 and was awarded a forfeit win over Thief River Falls when its coach decided not to play the final match in the round-robin tournament. Delano, which won the tournament last year, dropped out of the meet over the weekend, citing a scheduling conflict.
“It’s unfortunate the weather made things difficult but our girls deserve credit for how they handled the conditions,” Fodness said. “I don’t think we ever heard a complaint about the weather and that is one of the reasons we played well.
“We showed some real toughness,” the coach added.
The Jacks went 2-0 at third and fourth singles and first and second doubles. The key victory in the win over Brainerd came at first doubles where Annika Johnson and Olivia Dickinson rallied from a 2-5 deficit to post an 8-5 victory.
That win proved to be the difference in Bemidji’s 4-3 team triumph.
Against Virginia Alexis Konecne, Abbie Kelm and Sarah McNallan each won in singles play. Konecne was an 8-2 winner while Kelm prevailed 8-5 and McNallan 8-4.
Johnson and Dickinson coasted to an 8-2 win while Kenzie Schultz and Jenna Lee posted an 8-6 victory at second doubles.
Claudia Bellew tumbled 8-2 at first singles and Bemidji’s third doubles tandem of Erin Edlund and McKayla Beaulieu dropped an 8-1 decision.
Kelm blanked her Brainerd foe 8-0 and McNallan was an 8-5 winner.
In addition to the first doubles win by Johnson and Dickinson BHS was the victor at second doubles when Schultz and Lee posted an 8-3 triumph.
Edlund and Beaulieu were outlasted 9-7 at third doubles while Bellew and Konecne both dropped 8-4 decisions in singles action.
“We started the day with a nice win over Virginia, a team rated in the top 10 in Class A,” Fodness said. “I thought our singles players really stepped up with a good effort throughout the lineup. Claudia played well all day. Although she didn’t have a win at first singles she hit the ball better and battled hard.
“Alexis played consistently all day and was aggressive and followed well to the net,” the coach continued. “Abbie continues to impress with her mental toughness and her ability to hit a variety of shots and Sarah played very well at times. With a little more consistency she’s going to be really tough.”
Fodness also was impressed with his doubles players.
“Our doubles teams are still working to make some small adjustments but, overall, we did many good things,” he said. “Annika and Olivia played their best tennis the last six games of their second match and Kenzie and Jenna are really starting to play well together.
“We’re still working to pressure our opponents at third doubles but we showed some flashes on Monday and I think we’ll continue to get tougher.”
The next opportunity to improve will be Wednesday when Bemidji hosts East Grand Forks at 2 p.m. and Grand Rapids at 5 p.m.
Bemidji 5, Virginia 2
Sietz (Vir) def. Bellew 8-2
Konecne (Bem) def. Gunderson 8-2
Kelm (Bem) def. Rice 8-5
McNallan (Bem) def. Virants 8-4
Johnson and Dickinson (Bem) def. Berglund and Tolstad 8-2
Schultz and Lee (Bem) def. Greenwold and Phelps 8-6
Marcella and Westrburt (Vir) def. Edlund and Beaulieu 8-1
Bemidji 4, Brainerd 3
Wennerstand (Bra) def. Bellew 8-4
Steffen (Bra) def. Konecne 8-4
Kelm (Bem) def. P.Fitterer 8-0
McNallan (Bem) def. Price 8-5
Johnson and Dickinson (Bem) def. A.Fitterer and Mimmack 8-5
Schultz and Lee (Bem) def. Gunsbury and Anderson 8-3
Rusk and Hinrichs (Bra) def. Edlund and Beaulieu 9-7