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Clutch wins lead Bemidji to victory at Pine City Invitational

PINE CITY — With two matches to play Bemidji trailed Rochester Lourdes by two points during Monday’s season-opening Pine City Invitational.

“I think it was pretty clear after the first round that we’d be battling Rochester Lourdes all day for the championship,” said BHS coach Mark Fodness whose team was trying to defend the title it won in 2012.

“We needed to win those last two matches to take the title.”

Among the final two matches was the championship of the second singles division between Bemidji’s Alexis Konecne and Rachel Manatho of Lourdes.

Konecne dominated her southern Minnesota foe, posting a 7-5, 6-3 victory that brought the Lumberjacks into a tie with Lourdes, each team with 28 points. BHS had one match remaining while Manatho’s match was the last one for Lourdes. All the players from the private Rochester school could do was see if Red Wing’s second doubles team could stop Bemidji’s Jenna Lee and McKenzie Schultz in the last match of the day.

As it turns out, Red Wing couldn’t.

“In our last match Jenna and McKenzie won 7-5, 6-0 at second doubles and that victory gave us the team championship,” Fodness said. “We had assured ourselves a tie with Lourdes after Alexis’ win but we won the title outright when Jenna and McKenzie came through.”

Those clutch performances capped a terrific day that saw Bemidji claim three event crowns and a consolation championship. The individual efforts combined for 30 team points while Lourdes finished second with 28.

Trailing the leaders were Red Wing (21), South St. Paul (20), Pine City (16), Mounds Park Academy (13), Litchfield (11) and North Branch (1).

“This was a great way to start the season,” Fodness said. “This was a hard-fought win in a very competitive tournament. There were many close scores and, even though we let a few possible wins slip away, overall we won the majority of the matches I felt we should have won.”

Capturing division titles were Konecne at second singles, Abbie Kelm at fourth singles and the second doubles tandem of Lee and Schultz.

Konecne dropped only one set in her three victories while Kelm wasn’t tested until her final match when she thumped Natalie Allison of Lourdes 7-5, 6-3

Lee and Schultz also swept their opponents. In the final they won the first set 7-5 over Serena Feehan and Katie Carlson of Red Wing but they had no trouble completing the win, blanking the Red Wing duo 6-0.

At first singles Bemidji’s Claudia Bellew won two of her matches and finished third. Sarah McNallan also went 2-1 at third singles and finished as the consolation champion.

Also posting two victories and placing third were Annika Johnson and Olivia Dickinson at first doubles.

The Lumberjacks used two different teams at third doubles. Nicolette Roy and Kayla Snell won twice, defeating their Lourdes opponents 6-7 (3-7), 7-5, (7-5) and blitzing the Pine City doubles team 6-2, 6-2.

Also seeing action at third doubles were McKayla Beaulieu and Erin Edlund and they dropped their lone match 3-6, 7-5, (7-2) to Rochester Lourdes.

“We came away feeling very good about the way we battled all day and the fact that we came back to win and defend our title,” Fodness said. “At the same time, we learned from these matches. The way we played gives us plenty to work on before we play next at a very competitive tournament on Monday in Brainerd.”

Pine City Invitational

Bemidji 30, Rochester Lourdes 28, Red Wing 21, South St. Paul 20, Pine City 16, Mounds Park Academy 13, Litchfield 11, North Branch 1

Bemidji’s Results

First Singles

Claudia Bellew (third place): Bellew def. Sonday (SSP) 0-6, 7-6 (7-4), 7-1; Cahill (PC) def. Bellew 6-4, 4-6, (8-6); Bellew def. Mudge (MPA) 6-3, 6-0

Second Singles

Alexis Konecne (champion): Konecne def. Otteson (RW) 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 8-6; Konecne def. Lindrud (MPA) 6-1, 6-1; Konecne def. Manatho (RL) 7-5, 6-3

Third Singles

Sarah McNallan (consolation champion): Rike (PC) def. McNallan 7-5, 2-6, (7-4); McNallan def. McKeown (MPA) 6-4, 6-1; McNallan def. Conley (SSP) 6-2, 6-2

Fourth Singles

Abbie Kelm (champion): Kelm def. Nelson (Litch) 6-1, 6-0; Kelm def. Rarick (PC) 6-0, 6-1; Kelm def. Allison (RL) 7-5, 6-3

First Doubles

Annika Johnson and Olivia Dickinson (third place): Johnson and Dickinson def. Rollin and Becklin (NB) 6-1, 6-0; Alexander and Allison (RL) def. Johnson and Dickinson 6-3, 6-4; Johnson and Dickinson def. Stegora and Christianson (RW) 6-3, 6-3

Second Doubles

Jenna Lee and McKenzie Schultz (champion): Lee and Schultz def. Stone and Portis (MPA) 6-3, 6-1; Lee and Schultz def. G.Gorman and E.Gorman (RL) 6-4, 6-2; Lee and Schultz def. Feehan and Carlson (RW) 7-5, 6-0

Third Doubles

Nicollette Roy and Kayla Snell; McKayla Beaulieu and Erin Edlund (third place): Roy and Snell def. Hart and Rederson 6-7 (3-7), 7-5, (7-5); Mulkem and Brooks (RW) def. Beaulieu and Edlund 3-6, 7-5, (7-2); Roy and Snell def. Johnson and Carpenter (PC) 6-2, 6-2

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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