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Solberg sisters find success on the tennis court

Jessica and Cortne Solberg enjoy being sisters and that relationship has translated into success on the tennis court.

"Cortne and I do summer tournaments as a doubles team and 99 percent of the time we win," said Jessica. "We expect to play well."

During the Section 8AA individual tournament at Sartell the sisters have done just that and today they will represent Bemidji in the section semifinals.

As the top seed in the North bracket the Solbergs had a bye in the first round of the section meet. Tuesday they showed why they deserved that bye when they lost only four games in a pair of victories, dumping their Fergus Falls opponents 6-1, 6-2 and blitzing a team from Alexandria 6-0, 6-1.

Today they will meet Mandy Nierenhausen and Kelly Davis of Rocori in the semifinals. Also alive in the chase for the section title and second place are Bo LaFountaine and Megan Schwegman of Apollo plus Brainerd's doubles team of Mikinzee Salo and Kayla Kremer.

The top two teams will advance to the state tournament.

"Our goal is to go out, do what we do and see if it's good enough," said Cortne who is a senior.

"We'll just try to play our game and play our best," added Jessica, a sophomore.

Both athletes have experience at the state tournament team competition. As a freshman Cortne played third doubles and two years ago she played first doubles. Jessica was a part of Bemidji's third doubles tandem that same year.

During the regular season Cortne handled the first singles duties while Jessica played second singles. For the tournament coach Mark Fodness knew that they would make a perfect doubles combination.

"One of their strengths is that they are sisters," Fodness said. "They constantly play together and they have formed a great relationship on and off the court. That makes them such a great doubles team."

"We get along pretty well," Cortne said. "After all, we are sisters.

"Most people think that because we are sisters we can't get along together and that we fight. But we haven't had a fight since Jessica learned to listen to me," Cortne added with a wry smile.

Jessica agreed that being sisters is an asset for a doubles team.

"We see many doubles teams fighting on the court and finding fault with each other but we don't," Jessica said. "We just work things out as sisters."

Both players spent Monday night and all of Tuesday at the section tournament in Sartell. They will return to Sartell today and will spend most if not all of the day there.

"We're excited about playing tennis again but we're not excited about missing school," Cortne said.

"Jessica and Cortne are good examples of what a student-athlete should be," Fodness said. "They both take school and sports very seriously and their approach sets a great example for the team. They bring a winning attitude about school and tennis to the court everyday."

The second-seeded Lumberjacks will continue their quest for a state tournament bid 4 p.m. today when they entertain No. 3 Detroit Lakes at the middle school field.

BHS swept the Lakers during the regular season, winning 4-1 in Bemidji and 3-1 in Detroit Lakes.

The Lumberjacks earned today's home game by blanking Walker-Hackensack-Akeley 5-0 Tuesday while the Lakers thumped Crookston 4-0 in Detroit Lakes in Tuesday's first round.

Other North Sub-Section first-round results Tuesday saw Hillcrest Lutheran Academy advance with a bye and No. 4 Alexandria blitz No. 5 East Grand Forks 4-1.

In the South, top-ranked Sartell had a bye, No. 4 Becker nipped No. 5 St. John's Prep 2-1, No. 3 Little Falls blasted No. 5 Minnewaska 8-0 and No. 2 St. Cloud Cathedral toppled No. 7 Sauk Rapids 4-1.

Today's North pairings send Detroit Lakes to Bemidji and Alexandria to HLA. In the South, Becker visits Sartell and Little Falls travels to Cathedral.

If the Lumberjacks win today they will take on the survivor of Sartell and Becker. If Sartell wins, that game would be Tuesday in Sartell but if Becker could pull the upset, Bemidji would host the game. The game time either way would be 4 p.m.

Third-ranked Bemidji will visit No. 2 Detroit Lakes today with a spot in the section semifinals on the line.

The Jacks gained today's 4 p.m. contest by dismantling Hillcrest Lutheran Academy 8-2 Tuesday in Bemidji. The Lakers advanced with a 5-0 win over Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.

Today's other North match-up sends No. 4 Fergus Falls to No. 1 East Grand Forks. In Tuesday's opening round the Otters stopped Crookston 3-1 while EGF had a bye.

In the South, top-rated Minnewaska escaped with a 1-0 win over No. 8 Little Falls and Minnewaska will host Cathedral today which blanked St. John's Prep 5-0 Tuesday.

No. 2 Sartell and No. 3 Apollo will meet in today's other South game. Both advanced with shutout wins on Tuesday, Sartell defeating No. 7 Alexandria 4-0 and Apollo hammering No. 6 Sauk Rapids 6-0.

During the regular season Bemidji dropped both games to Detroit Lakes, falling 3-2 at home in the third game of the season and 3-0 at Detroit Lakes in the regular season finale.

The volleyball team will not have much time to savor Tuesday's marathon victory at East Grand Forks as the Jacks head to Wadena-Deer Creek today for a 7:30 p.m. contest.

BHS is coming off an exhausting 25-23, 22-25, 27-29, 25-18, 15-10 come-from-behind win over the Green Wave.

Allie Heifort and Jess Yost paced the offense with 28 and 22 kills. Yost also had 26 digs, four blocks and four aces.

Bemidji is 11-11 and will conclude its season with two more road trips. Saturday the Lumberjacks will participate in the Alexandria Invitational and Tuesday sees them at Lake of the Woods.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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