A 'great day': Bemidji tops St. Cloud Apollo, upsets Brainerd to advance to section semifinals
BRAINERD -- Talk about drama. The Bemidji tennis team had its fill in Tuesday's Section 8AA team tennis tournament at Brainerd.
The third-seeded Lumberjacks rallied from a 2-3 deficit to top second-seeded Brainerd 4-3. The Jacks won their final two matches, including two marathon three-set contests, to get into next weekend's sectional semifinals. They'll play top-seeded Becker next Tuesday in Sartell.
"It was a great day," BHS head coach Mark Fodness said. His team defeated St. Cloud Apollo 5-2 earlier Tuesday morning for the right to face Brainerd.
"The way we played that first match (against Apollo) really set the tone for how we played in the second one."
With Brainerd leading 3-2 in the second meet, Bemidji's Isak Somer rallied to defeat Bobby Posch in three sets, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, tying the match at 3-all.
That turned all eyes on the No. 2 doubles match between Bemidji's Austin Korczak and Zach Hewitt and Brainerd's Reno Fussy and Jared Stevens.
Korczak and Hewitt lost their first set 6-7 (4-7), but rallied to take the second set 7-6 (7-0).
That set up an epic third set, and Fussy and Stevens took control early, going up 4-2.
But Korczak and Hewitt won the next four games to take the match - and the meet - for Bemidji.
"That was the best match of their careers," Fodness said. "All of our guys played really well against Brainerd, but those guys, with everybody watching and knowing it was all on the line, that was such a key match."
In all, three of the seven matches in the Brainerd dual went to three sets.
"Our guys didn't back down," Fodness said.
Earlier in the day, the Jacks had a bit of an easier time with St. Cloud Apollo.
BHS won 5-2, and might have won 7-0 if two singles matches - Alec Hess at No. 1 and Somer at No. 3 - hadn't ended early. As they had already won at that point, the Jacks forfeited both matches to keep Hess and Somer fresh.
It turned out to be a good decision - especially for Somer, who played that long match against Brainerd.
"We played really well today," Fodness said. "I'm ecstatic. That was one of our best days of tennis this season."
The Jacks have another challenge awaiting them in the next round of the team tournament. Becker, the top seed in the southern half of the bracket, awaits them.
"They're pretty good," Fodness said. "But we gave ourselves a chance to win. Anything can happen if we're playing like this."
Before that, the Lumberjacks will participate in the Section 8AA individual tournament Thursday in Brainerd.
Section 8AA Team Tournament
Bemidji 5, St. Cloud Apollo 2
Haggarth (A) def. Hess (Bem) 3-6, 5-5 (Forefit)
Hokanson (Bem) def. Kruger (A) 7-6 (7-2), 6-1
Johnson (A) def. Somer (Bem) 4-6, 2-3 (forfeit)
N. Holter (Bem) def. McCall (A) 6-1, 6-2
Holter/ Fodness (Bem) def. Book/ Benson (A) 6-1, 6-0
Korczak/ Hewitt (Bem) def. Ano/ Batting (A) 6-1, 6-0
Heifert/ Ateberry (Bem) def. MacKinney/ Lillith (A) 6-0, 6-3
Bemidji 4, Brainerd 3
Zelinska (Bra) def. Hess (Bem) 6-3, 6-2
Kraemer (Bra) def. Hokanson (Bem) 6-2, 6-1
Somer (Bem) def. Posch (Bra) 5-7, 6-3, 6-4
N. Holter (Bem) def. Jacobson (Bra) 6-3, 6-1
Askegaard/ Anderson (Bra) def. A. Holter/ Fodness (Bem) 7-6 (7-5), 6-2
Korczak/ Hewitt (Bem) def. Fussy/ Stevens (Bra) 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-0)m 6-4)
Heifert/ Atteberry (Bem) def. Sundquist/ Anderham (Bra) 7-6 (7-5), 6-0