Bemidji's Jessica Solberg advances to state meet
SARTELL – The Bemidji High School tennis team’s run in the Section 8AA individual tournament ended Saturday but not before the Lumberjacks played some exciting tennis. Jess Solberg, the No. 2 seed in the North Sub-Section, and two doubles teams played Saturday.
Solberg won her first match of the afternoon, a 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 quarterfinal victory over Alex Revering of Monticello, and before her day was done the senior punched her ticket to the state meet.
Solberg fell to eventual champion Taylor Tarrolly of St. Cloud Tech 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals but she kept her shot at state alive by blitzing Karlee Jorgenson of Thief River Falls 6-1, 6-2 for third.
That victory, and Tarrolly’s championship win, vaulted Solberg into a True Second match against Rebecca Lukes of Alexandria.
“I was digging deep and hoping to push myself through the match,” Solberg said.
The senior did more than just push herself through. Solberg destroyed Lukes 6-0, 6-0.
“In that match Jess played the best she has ever played,” said BHS coach Mark Fodness. “Not just the best she has played this year. But the best she has EVER played.”
“I surprised myself,” Solberg admitted. “I do not usually have a good mental game but I talked my way through that True Second match. I told myself positive things and that winning and going to state was going to make everything better.”
Solberg’s dominance over Lukes was never in question.
“This is awesome,” she said. “Last week when we placed second in the section team tournament I told myself that I still had a shot at state in the individual tournament. And I took advantage of the opportunity by laying it all on the court.
“It didn’t feel like a 6-0, 6-0 win,” Solberg continued. “It was a battle but with everything, including a trip to state on the line, I wasn’t going to let up.
“But I’m relieved now that it is finally over.”
In her win over Revering Solberg also was in complete control.
“Jess played a tough match,” Fodness said. “She played almost a perfect first set but her opponent refused to quit and came back strong in the second set.
“At that point it just came down to who could control play in the third set, and Jess was much more aggressive and put together a great run of games and took the match.”
That set up a semifinal matchup with the South Sub-Section No. 1 seed, St. Cloud Tech’s Taylor Tarrolly.
Solberg lost to Tarolly in two sets, 6-2, 6-4.
“Jess played really well against a very strong player,” Fodness said. “Most of the games went to deuce several times before someone could win the game.”
The Lumberjacks’ doubles team of Annika Johnson and Olivia Dickinson made it to the semifinals before falling.
In the quarterfinals they defeated Becker’s Lauren Veldman and Lindsey Lorette 6-3, 6-0. But they couldn’t win their semifinal matchup against Brainerd’s Megan Hintz and Sara Wennerstrand, falling 6-3, 6-0.
Johnson and Dickinson eventually finished fourth after dropping a 6-2, 6-4 decision to top-seeded Lexi Portz and Jill Kedrowski of St. Cloud Tech in the third-place match.
“Annika and Olivia placed fourth in a very loaded doubles field,” Fodness said. “They played some really smart doubles in this tournament and it paid off for them.”
Amy Frosaker and Claudia Bellew lost to Port and Kedrowski 6-0, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
“Amy and Claudia battled hard, but the Tech team they played was the top seed for a reason,” Fodness said. “They’re a really strong, experienced team. Amy and Claudia haven’t played as much doubles but they both had terrific seasons.”
PAT MILLER, the Bemidji Pioneer sports editor, also contributed to the story