BOYS TENNIS: Bemidji prevails in final match to edge Brainerd

The Lumberjacks are now winners of their last nine meets and stand at 10-2 on the season.

051521.S.BP.BHSTENNIS Noah Johnson.jpg
Bemidji junior Noah Johnson returns a volley in a singles match against Brainerd on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, at the BHS tennis courts. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- With the team match knotted at 3-all, the result hinged on the No. 2 singles contest.

Noah Johnson ran out a 6-0 win in the third set to take the match and secure the Bemidji High School boys tennis team a 4-3 home victory over Brainerd on Tuesday. His teammates mobbed him in celebration afterward.

“I usually just tend to think that we’re winning and I don’t have to win to win the meet,” Johnson said. “I usually figure that the other guys will win so that way the pressure is off me and I can just play.”

The Lumberjacks are now winners of their last nine meets and stand at 10-2 on the season.

“There was a lot of good tennis out there,” head coach Kyle Fodness said. “It’s playoff time basically. You’ve got to get ready. It’s the last two weeks of the regular season before playoffs. We both know that it’s fairly likely any team we play now, we’re going to see them down the road in the playoffs. You want to be peaking at the right time. This was a good step in that direction.”


Filippo Buffo got Bemidji off to a good start with a quick 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 1 singles. Wins by Max Harris/Jack McNallan and John McNallan/Casey Rupp at Nos. 2 and 3 doubles gave the Jacks a 3-0 advantage.

The Warriors clawed their way back with a two-set win at No. 4 singles and a three-set victory in the No. 3 match. RJ Campbell/Beck Barber also overcame a 6-4 first-set loss at No. 1 doubles and took the match with wins of 6-4 in the final two sets, tying things up at 3-3 with Bemidji.

The No. 2 singles match was the only action left on the court as the sun sunk lower in the sky. Johnson earned a 6-3 win in set one before Karlton Anderson responded by taking the second set 7-5. The Lumberjack junior sealed the deal with a 6-0 triumph in set three to bring on the celebrations.

“Noah kind of has to be the MVP with a 3-3 match and it comes down to him on the third court,” Fodness said. “He kind of got away from his game a little in the second set, but he did a tremendous job of getting back and just refocusing on what was working well for him in the third set.”

The Jacks are next set to face Alexandria in an away meet at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 13. The Cardinals handed Bemidji one of its two losses earlier this season at BHS.

The Lumberjacks have their eye on obtaining the top seed in the Section 8AA playoffs, and a win Thursday could go a long way toward that goal.

“It’s kind of a playoff match because it’s an important one,” Fodness said. “But this time of year, every match is really important. … They’re a really well-coached team, really athletic and smart. But we have some guys who can do some stuff out on the court too, so that’ll be a good match.”


Bemidji 4, Brainerd 3


No. 1: Buffo (BEM) def. Moraghan 6-1, 6-1

No. 2: Johnson (BEM) def. Anderson 6-3, 5-7, 6-0

No. 3: Madsen (BRD) def. Cerven 5-7, 6-0, 6-1

No. 4: Boberg (BRD) def. Fuhrman 6-3, 6-2


No. 1: Campbell/Barber (BRD) def. Dickinson/Jensen 4-6, 6-4, 6-4


No. 2: Jo. McNallan/Rupp (BEM) def. Emslander/McConkey 6-4, 6-3

No. 3: Harris/Ja. McNallan (BEM) def. Aadland/Haglin 6-3, 6-1

Austin Monteith is the former sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of Bloomington, Ill., he is a 2015 graduate of Butler University. Follow him on Twitter at @amonteith92. Contact the Pioneer sports department at
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