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Bemidji girls tennis opens season at Pine City

The Bemidji High tennis team becomes the first of the eight fall sports units to kick off its season when it travels to Pine City tomorrow for the Pine City Invitational.

It has become the regular season opener for Bemidji for several years. Pine City's boys team is coached by Rick Engelstad, younger brother of Bemidji's Scott who once aided his brother coaching Bemidji while a BSU student. At onetime he also coached the girls as well.

It annually draws a top field of the state's Class A teams and will again this season.

Back are Rochester Lourdes, Mounds Park Academy of St. Paul and Staples-Motley which finished 1-2-4 in that order at the state Class A meet.

MPA won the Pine City title with 34 points to 23 for Bemidji and Lourdes who tied for second. Staples and Blake tied for fourth with 21 while Litchfield, Pine City and Thief River Falls trailed.

Holy Family Catholic will replace TRF this season.

Bemidji went on to post a 16-0 record through the section tournament and end 16-2, going 0-2 at the state.

Jamie Hoffman and Suzann Nordquist took third place in the individual meet, the first Bemidji players to ever win a match in that event.

Only four starters graduated from that team. But another gave up the sport this fall leaving Engelstad with five regulars to rebuild the new squad.

But those five seem likely to form a solid nucleus and replacements have moved up from an unbeaten JV team along with two Middle School performers who have moved into the starting 10.

Engelstad has spent the first week sorting out the cast to see where to put the players to form the strongest unit.

Tops among them are Hoffman (22-6) and Kenzie Kane (29-2) in singles last year with Hoffman compiling a 13-1 mark in doubles with Nordquist.

Cortne Solberg was 14-4 with Megan Huseby and 9-1 with Nordquist in doubles and posted a spotless 7-0 singles record.

Younger sister Jessica Solberg went 26-3 with four doubles partners, going 6-0 with Haley Pollock, the fifth tournament starter back. She went 1-1 with two other doubles partners and was 3-7 in singles.

That quintet will be joined Monday by Emma Nielsen, Katie Ditmanson, Anna Lintelmann and Amy Frosaker, up from the JV ranks plus eighth grader Mackenzie Schultz and seventh grader Taylor Kane who have played their way onto the varsity squad.

Engelstad will open today with Hoffman, Cortne Solberg and Kenzie and Taylor Kane in singles.

The doubles will match Jess Solberg with Pollock, Nielsen with Ditmanson while Lintelmann, Schultz and Frosaker will alternate on the third unit.